Switzerland will begin nationwide kidnapping alerts next year by spreading messages over television, radio, highway signs and cell phones if a child is abducted.
The program comes in response to the 2007 kidnapping of Ylenia Lenhard, who was found buried in woods nearly six weeks after she was abducted and poisoned in eastern Switzerland.
The new alarm will begin with warnings spread through TV, radio and highway signs, and announcements at airports and train stations, if there is concrete suspicion or knowledge that a kidnapped child is in danger, authorities said Thursday.
The Swiss News Agency SDA and the Swiss domestic service of The Associated Press will participate, the statement said.
In a later phase, warnings will be disseminated through the Internet and text messages, with links providing photographs of the victim and the suspected abductor. The program may also be extended to help adults who are kidnapped.
Authorities said the plan is based on a French alert, and focuses on the first hours after an abduction. This period is critical for a rescue operation, and the new alarm can help police organize a quicker response, they said.
The statement said the alarm would only go out if there is enough information on the child's situation. It would not be used in most cases of one parent abducting a child as part of a marital or relationship dispute, which usually does not entail a vital threat to a child, it said.
The kidnapping of Ylenia two years ago sparked a Swiss national drama, mirroring the intense media speculation and public concern generated by the case of Madeleine McCann, the British girl who disappeared shortly before her fourth birthday from a vacation resort in Portugal.