Ukrainian lawmakers try to fix problems for conscientious objectors


Institute of Religious Liberty, 22 April 2016


A comprehensive draft law was registered in the Verkhovna Rada, which is aimed at resolving a number of procedural problems regarding organization of alternative (non-military) service at a time of conscription.


Initiators of the changes provided by draft No. 4485 were people's deputies Pavel Ungurian and Viktor Elensky, the Institute of Religious Liberty reports.


The draft law provides that in the event of the conducting of a draft of Ukrainian citizens into compulsory military service in a special period (during a mobilization), an application for direction into alternative service is submitted no later than 15 days before the start of the draft established by order of the Ukrainian president. We recall that at the present time, all conscripts for compulsory service must report their desire to perform alternative service at least two months before the start of the draft.


It is also proposed to add to the Ukrainian law "On alternative (non-military) service" provisions which regulate the procedure of submission and consideration of applications of draftable citizens for their direction into alternative service during conscription.


Such an application must be submitted personally no later than 7 calendar days after receiving the summons of the military commissariat about conscription. It will be considered by the appropriate structural subdivision of the local state administration within 10 calendar days after its receipt in the presence of the citizen.


It is important that draft law No. 4485 contains the rule that is intended to prevent a repeat of instances of conscription of believing citizens before the consideration of their application for direction into alternative service: "The military commissariat is forbidden to adopt further measures for drafting or conscription of citizens who have submitted relevant applications before the completion of their consideration and the adoption of a decision on the merits."


Thus, the proposed changes permit correcting possible discrepancies between various rules of existing laws that apply to the organization of alternative service in a special period (during mobilization).


"Draft law No. 4485 is aimed at resolving immediately several existing problems that arise in practice because of gaps in the Ukrainian law 'On alternative (non-military) service" and its discrepancy with other laws. These complex changes permit avoiding dozens of lawsuits and criminal prosecutions connected with the exercise by believing citizens of their constitutional right," the executive director of the Institute of Religious Liberty, Maksim Vasin, who is one of the developers of this bill, thinks.


As the IRL reported, the right to alternative (non-military) service is guaranteed to citizens by article 35 of the Ukrainian constitution.


In accordance with the law, Ukrainian citizens have the right to alternative service if fulfilling their military obligation violates their religious convictions and these citizens belong to religious organizations that are operating in accordance with Ukrainian law, whose teaching does not permit the use of weapons.


We recall that in February 2016, the parliament voted for changes which gave the Ukrainian president the right to declare a draft to compulsory service in a shortened period. Hasty consideration of this draft law without a second reading made it impossible to reconcile it with the Ukrainian law "On alternative (non-military) service." (tr. by PDS, posted 25 April 2016)

Background articles:
Rights of conscientious objectors in Ukraine threatened (2)
February 18, 2016
Rights of conscientious objectors in Ukraine threatened
February 9, 2016

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