A new Abduction Alert was triggered in France. Less than two weeks after the disappearance of little Eya, who has since been found in Denmark, the device was launched for the thirtieth time to find little Malek, aged 8.
🔴 ABDUCTION ALERT: Malek, an 8-year-old girl, disappeared in #Dunkerque, in the North. She is likely to be with her father able to drive a green Renault Twingo registered DM 485 GJ. #AlerteEnlevement pic.twitter.com/z1TrWqFRXH
— French News (@InfosFrancaises) June 7, 2023
The Abduction Alert is "a system for alerting the population in the event of the abduction of a minor child". It aims to send a massive message to the population in the event of child abduction. Its triggering allows the rapid dissemination of precise information throughout the country in order to find the child as quickly as possible.
This colossal system has proven its worth since its introduction in 2006, with children having been found in 28 cases out of the 29 alerts triggered so far. Inspired by the AMBER Alert in the United States, the Abduction Alert is triggered according to specific criteria.
Broadcast in all media in France, the triggering of the alert is not automatic. It is the territorially competent public prosecutor, after consultation with the investigators and consultation with the Ministry of Justice, who decides to trigger the device.
Four criteria are necessary:
- it is a proven abduction and not a disappearance, even a disturbing one;
- the victim is a minor;
- the life or physical integrity of the child is in danger;
- The prosecutor has information whose dissemination may allow the location of the child and/or his abductor.
Even if these four criteria are met, the public prosecutor may decide not to trigger the Abduction Alert if he considers that its dissemination may endanger the child's life. As far as possible, the consent of parents should be sought to disseminate it.
The vast majority of disturbing disappearances (1,140 in 2022) do not give rise to a Kidnapping Alert. These cover only "very rarely criminal kidnappings", says Droit d'Enfance.
What does the alert message contain?
Written by the public prosecutor, the alert message is composed of precise elements likely to allow the location of the victim or the person suspected of the abduction and contains:
- identification elements such as the date, time, place of abduction, description or license plate number of the suspect vehicle, the victim's first name and recent photograph or a photograph of the suspect;
- a formula encouraging the population not to intervene alone;
- a telephone number and e-mail address to receive information relevant to the location of the victim or suspect.
The alert message is relayed by partners such as media that have signed an agreement with the State who undertake to broadcast messages on their means of communication every 15 minutes for three hours from the launch of the operation. Beyond this period, the dissemination of messages is no longer mandatory and is then a matter of editorial choice unless a specific request is made by the authorities.
The alert is immediately lifted when the child is found and the photographs and other elements must be removed as soon as the device is lifted by the judicial authority.
An effective system
Nicole Guedj, who set up the kidnapping alert plan, welcomed the effectiveness of the device with our colleagues in Le Figaro. "One of the great successes of the alert plan is that its deterrent nature has reduced the number of kidnappings."
So far, all children have been found alive on the 29 alerts triggered, with the exception of Vanille, who was found dead in February 2020. The little girl had been killed on her first birthday by her mother who had abandoned her in a dumpster in Angers. If this is the only failure of the device, the mother having already killed her daughter when the Abduction Alert was triggered.