Conscription bill withdrawn amid concerns over potential abuse of citizen rights

The Ukrainian government has withdrawn a bill on reforming Ukraine’s conscription system in response to concerns raised by the Anti-Corruption Committee, said MP Oleksiy Honcharenko during an interview with Radio NV on Jan. 11.

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“For example, the provision that the Territorial Recruitment Center (TRC) by its decision can restrict the constitutional rights and freedoms of a citizen, up to prohibiting driving a car, opening and using bank accounts, buying or selling property, receiving any assistance from the budget,” he said.

“Imagine the TRC. There are different people there: normal, patriotic, professional. But there is also [Odesa] military commissar [Yevhen] Borysov, who has already accumulated wealth in [Marbella, Spain] even without these norms. If there were such norms, I think Borysov would have his own jet already, he would be in Forbes by now. Because you can do anything with a person under these rules.”

Honarchenko was referring to accusations that Borysov had purchased an elite villa in Spain, costing around four million EUR, during martial law. Borysov is currently under investigation by Ukraine’s there National Anti-Corruption Bureau on this claims.

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Another risk posed by the bill are electronic draft notices, Honcharenko said.

“[The military recruitment office] sends you something somewhere, but maybe you don’t use a smartphone or email,” he explained.

“And then they say: ‘The person did not respond, we are now blocking the person’s entire life. And now, to open it again, come back to us.’ These are colossal corruption risks, colossal. In this form, it cannot be allowed.”

Following Radio NV’s interview with Honcharenko, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov announced that his department had prepared a new version of the conscription bill.

The bill plans to establish a clear term of service for servicemembers, said Umerov.

The defense minister added that a working group had been working on the conscription project for half a year. This group included representatives from all parliamentary factions, the Defense Ministry, the General Staff, and other ministries and agencies.

Umerov noted that the bill proposes giving prisoners-of-war repatriated from Russia a choice – to stay in the military or not. Those who choose to stay will be granted leave for several months, while the bill proposes release conscripts from service entirely.

The conscription bill will be submitted for government approval “in the near future,” Umerov said.

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The Cabinet registered a bill in the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on conscription issues on Dec 25.

In the initial version, the proposed provisions included:

  • lowering the draft age from 27 to 25 years

  • abolishing conscription

  • sending draft notices electronically

  • the possibility of discharge after three years of continuous service during martial law

  • introducing basic military training for three months for all citizens aged 18 to 25.

The bill received a lot of criticism, both from lawmakers and the public at large. The parliamentary secretary for the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence, Roman Kostenko, said in a comment that the committee has questions to almost all 73 pages of the bill, after its submission to parliament.

Certain provisions limit the rights of Ukrainians and contradict the Constitution, human rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said.

On Jan. 8, the Rada’s Social Policy Committee unanimously decided to recommend that the Defense Committee revise the conscription bill.

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Following a closed session meeting between MPs and military leadership on Jan. 11, MP David Arakhamia, head of the ruling Servant of the People party, announced that the bill would be withdrawn by the government for revisions.

Later that day, the Cabinet withdrew the bill.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine

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