The Slovenia Times

Slovenia records 400-600 missing persons per year, vast majority are found

Environment & Nature

Ljubljana - Between 400 and 600 people are reported missing in Slovenia every year, a third of them are adolescents or children. Most are found within a day, while more than 90% of children are found within four hours, says Damjan Miklič, head of the Police Expert Network on Missing Persons.

Miklič, who is also head of the Homicide and Sexual Offences Section of the Slovenian police, was speaking to the media on Wednesday on the sidelines of an international conference on missing persons.

He said that investigating missing persons was difficult precisely because there are so many unknowns at the outset. According to the police, there are currently 237 missing persons reported in Slovenia.

Two myths are commonly associated with missing persons, the first being that a report can only be made after 24 or 48 hours. Miklič pointed out that the police want people to report a missing person as soon as possible, so the search can begin. Another common myth is that a missing person will eventually return on their own.

"That's not true. Research data shows that only a third return home, while a third are found by others and about a third are found by the police. More than 1% of cases end tragically, in natural or accidental death, suicide or even concealed homicide," Miklič explained.

Communicating with the media about the missing person is crucial, as journalists inform the public and then people can be the "extra eyes and ears" in the search, he added.

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs also stressed the importance of journalists and the media in relation to missing persons: "In recent cases of missing children in Slovenia, they have been found quickly, also thanks to the help of the media."

This topic will be discussed extensively at a two-day international conference that started today in Ljubljana. According to Hojs, the search for missing persons is one of the most important fields for criminal investigators, as it is an extremely sensitive topic.

Although most missing persons are eventually found, Hojs says that there is a large number of people who have been missing for years, which can be very traumatic for the relatives of the missing person, as well as for the police.

Every unsolved missing person case casts a dark shadow, he added. That is why Slovenia has put missing persons investigations high on its priority list as part of its EU presidency.

According to Amber Alert Europe, an organisation that raises awareness about missing children, around 600,000 people go missing in Europe every year, half of them are children.

In today's statement to the media, the founder and chairman of the Amber Alert foundation Frank Hoen also stressed the importance of making missing persons a priority during all EU presidencies.

"A network of police experts working on this issue will raise its profile and alert the Council of the EU. Europe will never be the same after this conference, we will never again forget about this vital task," he said.

In Slovenia, the oldest record of a missing person who has not yet been found dates back to 1957, while the last case of a missing child that is yet unsolved was reported in 1996.

"Among missing adults, we call off the search within a day in about 80% of cases, while the search for over 90% of missing children is usually called off within four hours. Fortunately, most are found alive and well," said Miklič.

A missing person remains officially missing until he or she is found dead or alive, Miklič said, adding that the police are constantly adapting their investigative measures. They have also had cases of missing people being solved after eight or ten years.

When asked by the press, Hojs also commented on the Ombudsman's report on the human rights situation of migrants at the borders for the last three years.

He said that he had not yet read the report, but that he was aware of some of the Ombudsman's comments that were made in the past. "I have full confidence in the legality and the work of the police," said Hojs.

"In this area, the police have made a remarkable contribution in recent years. The number of migrants apprehended - given that Slovenia is not the first safe country of entry, but the first Schengen country - is extremely high, which shows that the police are doing a good job," he added.


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