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Virgin Healthcare Foundation
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Cherie Booth Supports the European Launch of a Worldwide Project Against International Child Abduction
London – Catherine Laylle Meyer and Cherie Booth, Q.C., will be the principal guest speakers today at the European launch of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), a new initiative to find missing children worldwide and to stamp out cross-border child abduction. The event, hosted by Richard Branson and the Virgin Healthcare Foundation, will take place at Holland Park, London.
ICMEC will provide instantaneous dissemination of pictures and information on missing children via the World Wide Web, advocate for stronger laws to protect children, assist victim parents, and offer training to professionals and law enforcement agencies around the world. Cherie Booth has agreed to be the patron of ICMEC, which will have offices in Washington, D.C. and in London.
The Honorable Arnold I. Burns, former Deputy Attorney General of the United States and Chairman of the Board of ICMEC, will announce plans for an extensive new global effort to network existing law enforcement agencies, child protective services and advocacy organizations to forge a more uniform response to the problem of missing and exploited children. A formal report on the findings of the International Child Abduction Forum hosted in Washington, D.C., last September, will also be made available, which includes recommendations on ways to improve the working of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.
Richard Branson is delighted that Virgin played a part in the launch of such a worthwhile global venture: “Three years ago we met the team at the Adam Walsh Children’s Fund, and learned about the great work of the National Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. They had a dream of building a global missing children’s network, using advanced computer technology to create a kind of ‘Children’s Interpol’. With this kind of resource, a photo and information about a missing child from Britain or any country could be distributed worldwide.
Britain has now become the first country to join the network. Using proceeds from Virgin Healthcare Foundation’s ‘Change for Children Appeal’, along with the enormous commitment of technology, engineering and support from Computer Associates International, Inc. new sites are up at the Metropolitan Police and the Hertfordshire Constabulary, and the program is expanding throughout Britain. We are proud to have played a role in this effort, and in launching the new International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children”.
Lady Meyer is a leading advocate for the cause of children abducted across frontiers. She is herself a victim parent, having been forcibly separated from her two young sons for five years. In response to the alarming increase in child abduction cases, Lady Meyer has become a leading figure in the effort to improve the efficiency of the Hague Convention and make child abduction a human rights issue.
Corporate support for the creation of ICMEC is being contributed by Compaq Computer Corporation, Computer Associates International, Inc. (CA) and Virgin Healthcare Foundation. Compaq recently announced a $250,000 cash and equipment contribution to ICMEC to support and build the international infrastructure necessary to achieve its global goals for children. CA, who has developed and engineered the award-winning web site and global network of the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, is also providing software and professional services to
further develop and support ICMEC’s global information system. Virgin Healthcare Foundation’s Change for Children program contributed over $100,000 for ICMEC and provided key support for the establishment of a missing children’s web site within British law enforcement.