Ukraine: Zelensky’s plan has no legal foundation
(07.09.2023) Ukrainian military conscripts who currently reside in the EU are in an uproar. President Zelensky announced that he will submit extradition requests to recruit those who have fled the country and evaded a draft. Due to the European Council Directive 2001/55/EC of July 20, 2001, better known as the “Temporary Protection Directive (TPD)”, all Ukrainian citizens receive temporary humanitarian residences in the European Union at the moment.
They fled Ukraine because they did not want to be recruited for war. There are various reasons for this; what is clear, however, is that any legal possibility to refuse military service has been suspended in Ukraine. Conscientious objectors are sentenced to several years in prison. Yurii Sheliazhenko, who advocates for COs within the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, was sentenced to house arrest. Ukraine disregards the human right to conscientious objection.
Our counseling center receives an increasing number of inquiries concerning Ukrainian men who have already been to the war. Some of them are severely traumatized or injured and fear that they will be sent back to the front, nonetheless.
President Zelensky’s announcement has no legal foundation. According to Article 4 of the European Convention on Extradition, no extradition may be executed for military offenses. A rendition would, therefore, be illegal. This applies to all countries of the European Union.
Thus, Zelensky’s announcement proves to be an attempt to increase pressure on Ukrainian men abroad. As the willingness to serve in the war decreases, the pressure increases. The last reserves are to be mobilized.
The announcement is presumably also aimed at influencing the further design of the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD). Under EU law, it expires no later than February 2025.
The German government appears clueless. It insists that the right to conscientious objection continues in Ukraine. This threatens conscientious objectors as their decision to flee the Ukraine may not be taken seriously, even if they apply for asylum.
Rudi Friedrich: Zelensky’s plan has no legal foundation. Commentary in taz. 7.9.2023.