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Costa Rica successfully tests new missing child alert system

June 24, 2015

Public Security Ministry officials have reported the first successful test of a new emergency system for broadcasting alerts following the disappearance of a minor, known as SAN. The first test alert helped locate a 13-year-old girl who was reported missing on Monday in the Alajuela canton of San Ramón.

The state-owned Costa Rican Electricity Institute sent an alert via SMS to its 3.8 million mobile services customers, and the ministry posted the child’s information and photo on its Twitter profile, @seguridadcr.

On Tuesday, a woman from San Ramón called police to report a girl hidden in a coffee plantation near her house. She was the missing child.

The girl told police she was afraid to return home, so officers took her to the Child Welfare Office to investigate her situation.

Public Security Minister Gustavo Mata Vega said he is pleased with the results of the first test and asked private mobile carriers to move forward and join the alert system.

“We’re saving children’s lives. Any effort we can make is completely worth it,” Mata said.

A bill outlining the creation of the SAN alert is still pending lawmakers’ approval in a second and final round of voting at the Legislative Assembly. Lawmakers last month approved it in a first round. That piece of legislation, known as “Alert System for the Protection of Costa Rican Children,” or SAN, is promoted by lawmakers Fabricio Alvarado from the National Restoration Party and Humberto Vargas of the Social Christian Unity Party.

Alvarado and Mata on Monday met to discuss details regarding the information that will be included in alert messages and negotiations with private mobile carriers.

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