President of Costa Rica, Dr. Abel Pacheco, Visits ICMEC | ICMEC | APR 11, 2003

On April 11, 2003, ICMEC/NCMEC had the honor of hosting a visit by the President of Costa Rica, His Excellency Dr. Abel Pacheco. Members of his cabinet were also present to include The Ambassador of Costa Rica Dr. Jaime Daremblum, Deputy Chief of Mission Ms. Ana Villalobos, Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Rogelio Pardo, Minister of Foreign Relations Sr. Roberto Tovar, Chief of Protocol Presidential House, Sr Jorge Arce. During President Pacheco’s visit he met and addressed ICMEC Board Members, and toured the facilities.

President Pacheco’s main concern is the arising problem with missing children and sexual exploitation in Costa Rica. His top agenda is to build a resource center modeled after ICMEC/NCMEC in Costa Rica to assist the government and families in the country and the region.



National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Congratulates Left-Behind Parent on Legal Victory | ICMEC | APR 24, 2003

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) congratulates Tom Sylvester, a parent of an internationally abducted child, on his victory in the European Court of Human Rights.

Sylvester, on behalf of himself and his daughter Carina, brought suit against the country of Austria in the European Court of Human Rights, stating that Austria denied them their human rights as enumerated under the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, which included the return of his daughter from Austria under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Carina was abducted from Michigan by her mother in 1995 and taken to Austria. While the court of first instance in Austria found that Carina was wrongfully removed from the U.S. and ordered her return, the case was appealed and delayed due to the lack of enforcement of the order of return. Ultimately the Austrian Supreme Court did not enforce the final return order as Carina had become acclimated to her new environment.

The European Court of Human Rights concluded that the Austrian authorities failed to take, without delay, all the measures that could reasonably be expected to enforce the return order, and thereby breached the applicants’ right to respect for their family life. The Court ordered the Austrian government to award approximately $47,000 to Sylvester to cover the costs and expenses of his legal battle, in addition to non-pecuniary damages.

“This is a moral and ethical victory. However, this does not now mean that Carina will be able to have a normal relationship with her father. The United States still needs cooperation from the Austrian government to achieve that. This decision merely vindicates Tom’s position and places Austria on notice that it needs to improve its implementation of the Hague Convention for this family and those families to come,” said Ernie Allen, president of NCMEC.

NCMEC, a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. NCMEC was established in 1984 as a public-private partnership to help find missing children and combat child sexual exploitation. Since September 1995, NCMEC has handled 3,143 cases under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for the U.S. Department of State, resulting in the return of 2,211 children. For more information about NCMEC, call 1-800-THE-LOST, or visit www.missingkids.com.



International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Marks Missing Children’s Day with Enhanced Websites to Help More Quickly Recover Children and Prevent Victimization | ICMEC | MAY 26, 2003

International Database of Missing Children Receives More Than Three Million Hits Each Day

In honor of Missing Children’s Day on May 25th, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) unveiled its enhanced global missing children websites designed to allow visitors to more quickly find up-to-date information on missing children’s cases around the world and to facilitate recoveries.

ICMEC’s network of global missing children websites enables law enforcement agencies to manage and disseminate information on missing children and prevention education (or child safety). By participating in the global network, the agencies facilitate recoveries across borders while enabling the sharing of best practices. Participating agencies are given software tools and training to add content to their countries’ websites and to the underlying global database.

“The global network of missing children’s websites is a valuable resource that we are proud to offer to law enforcement agencies around the world,” said Nancy Dube, ICMEC vice president and chief operating officer. “Missing Children’s Day is an appropriate time to celebrate technological advancements which aid all countries that share in the mission of finding and protecting children.”

New features on the websites include an “Alert” section that highlights missing children photos, a “Quick Search for Missing Children” feature that allows visitors to look up a missing child based on the most frequently used search options, and the ability to handle non-Latin alphabets.
Law enforcement agencies in the following countries are currently part of the international network of missing children sites:

  • Argentina – ar.missingkids.com
  • Australia – au.missingkids.com
  • Belgium – be.missingkids.com
  • Brazil – br.missingkids.com
  • Canada – ca.missingkids.com
  • Chile – cl.missingkids.com
  • Italy – it.missingkids.com
  • Malaysia – my.missingkids.com
  • Mexico – mx.missingkids.com
  • The Netherlands – nl.missingkids.com
  • South Africa – za.missingkids.com
  • Spain – es.missingkids.com
  • United Kingdom – uk.missingkids.com
  • United States – www.missingkids.com

ICMEC’s corporate partners provided technology for the improved network of websites including long time supporter Computer Associates International, Inc.(CA) and Sun Microsystems, Inc(Sun). CA donated its software, Advantage Ingres, along with development and support services for the multilingual database. CA’s network and systems, storage and security management and portal solutions manage the supporting IT infrastructure and provide productivity enhancements. Sun Microsystems’ programmers designed the website software, built the new website, and donated website maintenance services. Both companies have been key to ICMEC building and growing its international web presence.
Missing Children’s Day was first proclaimed in 1983 by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan in remembrance of a New York child who disappeared while on his way to school on May 25, 1979. The massive search effort and media attention that followed was the impetus for the development of solutions to address the problem of child abduction. Since then, many children’s organizations throughout the world have recognized May 25th as Missing Children’s Day.



International Age Progression Training | ICMEC | JUN 20, 2003

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is pleased to announce the first session of International Age Progression Training. Training took place during the week of 16-20 June 2003. The training was led by Forensic Imaging Unit Supervisor, Glenn Miller.

The class consisted of the following people: Tim Hedgely, from the Police Service of Northern Ireland; Dewayne King, from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department in Bessemer, Alabama; and Edith Palacios, Marisela López, and Alejandro Rosales from the Procuraduria General de la Republica in Mexico.

The next session of training is scheduled to take place during the week of 13-17 October 2003.



International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Will Hold International Conference for the First Time in Tuscany, Italy | ICMEC | OCT 15, 2003

Board of Directors to Discuss and Define Strategies to Fight Worldwide Phenomena of Missing and Exploited Children

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) will hold its bi-annual Board of Directors meeting in Greve in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy, on October 16-17, 2003. ICMEC’s first international conference in Italy will bring together representatives from Belgium, France, Ireland, Peru, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States to discuss global responses to the problems of international child abduction and child sexual exploitation.

“Since its inception five years ago, ICMEC has gained a great deal of momentum and support from around the world,” said the Honorable Arnold I. Burns, ICMEC Board of Directors Chairman. “By hosting an international conference, we are providing global organizations and agencies with the opportunity to analyze, share, and compare best practices in the prevention of crimes against children.”

A priority topic of discussion will be the efforts and progress made by ICMEC and Child Focus to create missing and exploited children’s centres across Europe. Child Focus, the European Center for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children in Belgium, serves as ICMEC’s European operations centre and the focal point for developing new national centres in Europe based on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Child Focus model. Presentations will be made on the progress to develop such centres in France, Italy, and Poland.

“Child Focus has committed to working closely with ICMEC to build solid, collaborative approaches to the recovery of children missing across international borders and the prevention of child sexual exploitation,” said Baron Daniel Cardon de Lichtbuer, Child Focus Chairman and ICMEC Board of Directors Vice Chair. “We are excited to share the progress made with many European countries to develop this same commitment to children.” He continued, “We are honored to be hosting our 2003 ICMEC board meeting in Italy. Together, Child Focus and ICMEC look forward to working with Mr. Pier Ferdinando Casini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, to create an Italian Centre for Missing & Exploited Children by the end of 2004.”

Efforts to establish centres have been met with enthusiasm in France and Poland. In France, Child Focus and ICMEC welcomed the decision by the Fondation pour l’Enfance, chaired by Mrs Giscard d’Estaing, to create a centre which will provide psychological, legal and social help to missing or abducted children and their parents. The French Ministries of Justice and Family affairs offered their cooperation, as well. Visits to Child Focus to learn about their operations and training sessions are being organised. In Poland, Mrs Jolanta Kwasniewska, the first lady, has agreed to serve as an ICMEC Honorary Board member. Nobody’s Children Foundation, an organization that deals with child sexual abuse, and Itaka Foundation, which focuses on the problem of missing children, are also cooperating with these efforts in Poland.



ICMEC’s International Law Enforcement Training Is a Huge Success | ICMEC | DEC 1, 2003

Law Enforcement Officers from Around the World are Trained to Investigate Computer Crimes Against Children

On December 1, 2003, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) held its first international law-enforcement training program on investigating online crimes against children. The Conference on Computer-Facilitated Crimes Against Children was conducted over four days at the headquarters of Interpol, an international police organization, in Lyon, France. Law enforcement representatives from 41 countries came together to receive training on investigating online child predators, collecting evidence and computer forensic information, and seeking private industry support in child exploitation investigations.

“This type of criminal activity is an international issue transcending borders and jurisdictions,” said Ruben Rodriguez, director of Domestic and International Law Enforcement Affairs at ICMEC and one of the organizers of the conference. “One of ICMEC’s mandates is to bring to law enforcement the tools necessary to assist them in their investigations of crimes being perpetrated against our world’s children. This course is designed to aid law enforcement in the development of those skills necessary to address this type of crime,” he continued.

This conference identified the great need for law enforcement education about these crimes in all parts of the world. ICMEC has received numerous invitations to conduct similar training seminars in 2004 and beyond. Regions in which the training will take place include Central America, Australia and New Zealand, South East Asia, and Eastern Europe. Countries in South America and Southern Africa have also expressed strong interest.

Initial funding for this series of training programs was part of a generous contribution from Microsoft. Microsoft’s support is one of many efforts the company is making to help safeguard the children of the world online.



Turning Off Online Child Exploitation | ICMEC | DEC 3, 2003

MS Co-Sponsors International Training Program

Child exploitation is a large, growing, and underestimated problem, and, sadly, the Internet offers predators of children a new mode for carrying out an old, disturbing crime. But Microsoft is doing its part to turn off online child predators.

“As a company with a history of delivering fine products, we’ve never had to face this type of problem, but with the growth of the Internet, the problem of child exploitation is expanding worldwide and reaching crisis proportions,” said Hemanshu Nigam, an attorney with Law and Corporate Affairs. “Microsoft is increasingly concerned with the security and safety of the online-computing experience. We don’t want the Internet to be sabotaged by child pornographers, child predators, or others who seek to harm children.”

The company’s efforts in this area led to the creation of the Children’s CyberSafety Council, co-chaired by Nigam and Pam Portin, director of policy for MSN. The council has coordinated Microsoft’s participation with external agencies, including Microsoft’s partnership with the U.S.-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Pam Portin, director of policy for MSN and co-chair of Microsoft’s Children’s CyberSafety Council, poses Dec. 1 in Lyon, France, with Ruben Rodriguez, director of domestic and international law-enforcement affairs with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children. During the conference, Microsoft received a plaque from Interpol, an international police organization, in appreciation of the company’s ongoing support in the fight against the online exploitation of children.

On Dec. 1, the council backed an effort to support the international community’s heightened endeavor to address the growing problem of child safety on the Internet. Microsoft teamed with the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and Interpol, an international police organization with 181 member countries, to launch an international training program for law-enforcement officials who investigate computer-facilitated crimes against children. ICMEC plans to conduct eight to 10 intensive training programs per year around the world, the first of which began the same day as the announcement and ran through Dec. 4 at Interpol’s headquarters in Lyon, France, with more than 40 countries represented.

“We’re taking proactive steps to team with law enforcement because helping secure cyberspace cannot be done alone,” Nigam said. “We believe that Internet-based crimes against children must be addressed through government and private partnerships.”

The Children’s CyberSafety Council also is working internally at Microsoft to raise cross-group awareness of law-enforcement issues in the online child-exploitation arena and to assist product groups in developing products and features that facilitate Microsoft’s commitment to a safer, more secure online experience for children.

“We are asking employees to keep in mind when developing a product or feature what impact it can have on a kid or how a criminal might misuse it,” Portin said. “Additionally, employees can understand the issues and do their part to educate family and friends. For example, parents should coach children when they first go online just like they would when coaching a child to walk to school by themselves.”

To learn more about online safety, visit http://www.staysafeonline.com/.