The Humanitarian organisation Hope for Children UNCRC Policy Centre (HFC) on Monday deemed Cyprus one of the safest places in the world for children with zero incidents of criminal child abductions.
The organisation was responding to a media frenzy in the UK last week after a group of tourists claimed a gang of Romanian child snatchers tried to make off with their children from a hotel in Protaras, the most popular summer destination for Cypriot families.
The facts of the case as ascertained by the authorities were that a 19-year-old Bulgarian man who was filming adult traditional Cypriot dancers at the hotel’s evening show was pounced on by a group of tourists, mainly Scottish, who accused him of being a paedophile, chased and beat him. Nothing relating to children was found on his phone.
HFC, in an announcement, said the allegations made by the tourists were unfounded, and that police investigations showed they were “far from reality”.
Director-General of the Organisation, Joseph Varughese said Cyprus is one of the safest places in the world for children, especially in relation to criminal child abduction, which was evidenced by zero such incidents.
The spokesman of the Organisation, Dr Antonis St Stylianou said the alleged gang activity for child abductions was non-existent.
“Cyprus is pioneering in matters relating to the protection and promotion of children’s rights and this is due to the particular sensitivity of the government and the competent authorities in issues concerning children, and the effort of society in general to fully ensure the safety of children,” he said.
He said HFC staff were fully trained in the operation of the child abduction alert system and in cooperation with the police they receive continuing education and training on the issues of missing children.
“HFC welcomes the immediate response of law enforcement authorities of the Republic to investigate the complaint and the arrest, interrogation and investigation of the alleged perpetrator,” the organisation said.
“Law enforcement authorities of the Republic are fully capable to detect and respond to such incidents.”
HFC and the Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family (SPAVO) last year signed a Protocol of Cooperation with the ministry of justice and public order and Cyprus police on handling cases of missing children.
A child abduction alert system is also in force, which aims to assist the work of the police in cases of missing children, based on the principle of immediate response in cases of child abductions.
The two organisations also operate the pan-European line for missing children 116 000, which operates 24/7. (CNA)