A report by Spain’s National Centre of Missing Persons of the Secretary of State for Security, part of the Ministry of Interior, has revealed that almost all children reported missing in Spain are of non-Spanish nationality.
The data is drawn from the Missing People database and Unidentified Individuals and Human Remains (PDyRH) and the Crime Statistical System (SEC), recorded by the Spanish police forces. Of 12,330 active complaints–as of December 2018–only 519 belong to minors of Spanish nationality.
Spain's kidnapping statistics are fairly consistent with the rest of the world. However, it seems to be a hotspot for abduction of foreign children: this may include both parental abductions and traffickers using Spain as a gateway to the rest of the world.
The country has, in fact, been identified by the European Commission as an EU hotspot for human trafficking. Meanwhile, more than 2,400 cases of child abduction involving one of the victim’s parents have been reported in Spain since 2011.
Parental abductions account for the majority of cross-border child abduction cases in Europe, representing 64.7% of new cross-border cases opened in 2018.
Klev & Vera is an international English-speaking law firm based in Barcelona, with a specialism in family law and cross-border child abduction cases. Co-founding partner Helen Vera explains:
“Relocation of children is fairly common throughout EU member states due to the free movement of people. As such, we deal with a lot of cases where the parent has removed a child to Spain as part of a custody dispute.”
“While Spain, as a state party to the Hague Abduction Convention, has a clear framework for dealing with child abduction cases, negotiations are often complex due to a lack of legal definition for key concepts, such as ‘interests of the child’, which are crucial to the courts’ decision-making,” she continues. “We’d recommend that anyone involved in a cross-border child abduction case in Spain seek expert legal representation.”