Human rights activists urge Ukrainian authorities to define legal status of members of volunteer battalions

2014 2014-08-15T19:59:00+0300 2014-08-15T19:59:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Volunteer battalion in the ATO zone

Volunteer battalion in the ATO zone

After the end of hostilities, members of volunteer battalions risk to becoming involved in criminal cases. Indeed, their status depends entirely on the position of the authorities. To avoid this risk, human rights defenders propose to consider legalization battalions by law.


Today, members of battalions may be faced with the fact that they are accused of evading military service because according to the documents most of them are still people who are to be recruited to the official army, and there are no documents supporting their service in the volunteer battalions. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has not yet developed a procedure for granting the status of a combatant.


"Those who now defend the interests of Ukraine may face extremely negative consequences in the peaceful time. There is no need to remind how quickly the authorities can change their sympathies. Participants of countless battalions that appear everywhere, often have no official status and powers. In this regard, there arise many issues, ranging from the question of facilitations and payments to the legitimate use of force and weapons. No one is immune from criminal proceedings after the war, the more that the war hasn't been recognized as such," said Xeniya Prokonova, lawyer of the practice of business security of JSC" Yuskutum". She warns that in paper an injured participant of ATO can be equated to the participant of a domestic fight after excessive alcohol consumption.


Volunteers say they don't go to the war for benefits and privileges. However, this does not exempt the state from the obligations arising from her injuries or in the event of death or members of volunteer battalions.


Mikhaylo Tarakhkalo, Director of Strategic Affairs of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union, said: "If Ukraine recognizes the activities of volunteer battalions on its territory, it will have to bear responsibility for their actions before third parties, as well as before the participants of these battalions and their families".


Lawyer Oleh Veremiyenko, to whom members of volunteer battalions have applied for legal aid, is convinced that the battalions need to be legalized as soon as possible. Now, there is a situation in which participants of battalions are unwilling to fight under the leadership of the Interior Ministry, whose representatives in the field, whose reputation often leads much to be desired. This refusal eliminates their ability to legally obtain weapons to fight terrorists. Therefore, any fact of obtaining, use or transportation of weapons can be used against them.

As stated by Oleh Veremiyenko, even now there are cases when it is hard to prove that the injury or death of a combatant occurred during the stay in the zone of the ATO. This means that participants of the battalions or their families wouldn't be able to receive any compensation or medical treatment.