Goncalo Amaral, Ex-criminal investigation coordinator of the PJ, speaks
about the disappearance of children.
Correio da Manha – Is the disappearance of children only taken into
account by the authorities after an official complaint?
Goncalo Amaral – There is a great lack of awareness, which has to do
with the child’s age. It is high time that the competent authorities
should be called when a child disappears. This could be the difference
between life and death.
– What has been lacking in a criminal investigation of this type of
– The lack of training, of planning and the absence of a unique police
unit to investigate the disappearance of children. Whatever the motives,
it is a missing child, sometimes for 48 hours, sometimes for a lifetime.
– What happened in the Rui Pedro case?
– The prosecutor who now accuses Afonso Dias has not been involved in
the investigation from the very beginning. The evidence of the
accusation has existed for 13 years. As well as the late intervention of
the PJ. The same that happened 13 years ago, according to this state of
affairs, could be happening in the same way today.
– Do you consider that Portuguese law protects children?
– It has its faults. For example, the crime of exposure to abandonment
is very serious. It only comes into force in the case of a person being
mal-intentioned. That should not be the case, children often disappear
due to being ill-treated and neglected.
– What are the main sources of danger for children?
– Danger begins in the home where they live, in their bedroom, the
Internet access they have, where they are exposed to the sphere of
paedophiles and abusers.
– What should change?
– There should be awareness, which only occurs when a case is taken up
by the media. That is the only time we all cry. Specific training for
the PJ is required.