Investigation reopened into 502 'missing' street children

No trace of so-called 'traffic light kids' taken to Athens children's home from 1998 to 2002

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Chief prosecutor at Athens first instance court orders fresh investigation into the fate of 502 Albanian Roma children taken to an Athens children's home

(Photo: Spyros Tsakris, Eleftherotypia) (Photo: Spyros Tsakris, Eleftherotypia) A prosecutor has ordered a fresh criminal investigation into the fate of 502 children who are alleged to have gone missing from state care from 1998 to 2002.

Between 1998 and 2002, the children, who were mostly Albanian Roma, were arrested by the authorities for begging and taken to the Ayia Varvara children's home, in Nea Smyrni, Athens.

They were never repatriated to Albania as planned because soon after their registration at the home, they went missing.

Following renewed media interest in the case of the so-called "traffic light kids", Panayiota Fakou, the chief prosecutor at Athens first instance court, ordered that the investigation be reopened into what happened the children, all of whom were under 14.

That investigation failed to identify what had happened the children.

In 2005, the special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography of the UN's Commission on Human Rights, Juan Miguel Petit, reported specifically on this case.

Last year, four Greek and Albanian nongovernmental organisations published a report into the missing children (pdf), calling for for the ombudsmen in both countries to coordinate their efforts into case. They also called on the Greek judicial authorities "to complete in a thorough and effective manner the pending criminal investigation for abduction of children younger than 14 years before charges become time-barred in 2013". 

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Greece: 502 Albanian Roma children missing since 1998-2002. Indifference and impunity. An update on the Aghia Varvara case - 172 KB