Ukraine: Conscientious objectors sentenced to several years in prison

(05.07.2022) In May and June 2022, at least two conscientious objectors in Ukraine were sentenced to suspended prison terms for several years. This became known through the publication of the sentences in the State Register on Court Sentences in Ukraine. Both conscientious objectors had declared their conscientious objection before the Military Commissariat. In one case, they were sentenced to three years’ imprisonment suspended for one year, and in the other to four years’ imprisonment suspended for two years. Since both can be called up again, they are thus threatened with serving the long prison sentence already handed down and being sentenced again.

"It is evident," said Rudi Friedrich of the conscientious objection network Connection e.V. today, "that Ukraine is acting sharply against military conscientious objectors and conscientious objectors, even in cases where the limited right to conscientious objection that exists in Ukraine should be valid. We strongly condemn this approach and call on the Ukrainian government to immediately guarantee a comprehensive right to conscientious objection. Conscientious objection is a human right and must be valid especially in times of war."

In Ukraine, there is a right to conscientious objection. However, this is only granted to members of ten smaller religious communities. Soldiers and reservists also have no possibility to declare their conscientious objection. One of the two convicts belongs to the Source of Life, part of the Adventists, and should therefore fall under the existing regulation on conscientious objection in Ukraine. (...mehr)

The Ukrainian Pacifist Movement drew attention in a statement to the fact that "the recently dismissed Commissioner for Human Rights of the Ukrainian Parliament has noted the incompatibility of the current legislation with international human rights standards regarding the right to conscientious objection."

According to an evaluation by the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, the state register of court decisions also records a number of other cases of convictions under Article 336 of the Ukrainian Criminal Code for military conscientious objection. Most of the sentences are for 3 years’ imprisonment suspended for one year. From January to April 2022, more than 2,500 cases were opened for Article 336 and similar offenses.

Connection e.V.: Press release July 5, 2022

Keywords:    ⇒ Conscientious Objection   ⇒ Prosecution   ⇒ Ukraine