TALLINN — After claims that they are failing to force absent fathers to pay child support, Estonian authorities have launched an Internet campaign to try to shame them into obeying court orders.
"The aim of the public website is to motivate the absent parent to pay their debt," senior justice ministry official Marko Aavik told reporters Friday.
"Everyone -- not only friends but also their colleagues -- can see that information about them now," he added.
The names of 13 men were listed Friday on the page within the ministry's website, www.just.ee. The list is expected to expand over coming weeks to include hundreds more.
Alongside the names, the site provides the men's identity card numbers and the sums they have failed to pay, from 32,040 to 188,793 kroons (2,000 to 12,000 euros, 2,860 to 16,870 dollars).
The justice ministry said the names will be taken down 10 days after the money is paid in full, and are only listed with permission from the other parent raising the child.
According to the ministry, a total of 4,700 absent parents have failed to respect court orders to pay child support in this Baltic state of 1.3 million people.
But officials say that thousands more who duck their financial duties have not been sued by the parent raising the child, in part because the latter lacks confidence in the justice system's ability to force payment.
The issue has long been in the public eye, but media campaigns and parliamentary debates have failed to fix the situation.
"I fully support the new action. It might force those playing the fool -- like having enough money to pay for a car, but not for their own child -- to finally find the money," said Reet Roos, a Tallinn city councillor and ex-lawmaker who has campaigned for a get-tough approach.
Copyright © 2010 AFP