war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Top priorities in the work of USMU

V.Artamonova, Head of the USMU
PL publishes here the materials of the conference of the Union of soldiers’ mothers of Ukraine (USMU) which was held on 4-5 March in Kyiv and Chernigov, as well as materials and propositions of the round table devoted to army problems and materials from USMU regional branches.

We believe that these materials are rather important, since they determine the priorities of the USMU as a human rights protection organization, which must protect human rights of servicemen on the basis of the Universal Declaration of human rights, of the Constitution of Ukraine and other Ukrainian laws.

PL considers that the information about the legal aid to servicemen will be interesting and useful for all readers and especially for USMU regional branches.

Top priorities in the work of USMU

V.Artamonova, Head of the USMU

The USMU and all its local branches have taken an active part in the process of democratization of our country during the last decade. Important changes have occurred during this time at all levels of the state power and in Ukrainian policy. The Ukrainian army shall not stand aside the road of reforming and democratization. Hundreds of thousands of human destinies have passed through our hands and hearts, and, as a rule, pain and tears dominated.

Analysis shows that at the bottom of all these problems there lies the legal nihilism, which reigns not only in the armed forces, but in our state as a whole. About 90% of elementary abuses of human rights could never occur if our sense of justice were different. Having become a member of the OSCE and of the Council of Europe, having signed a lot of the UNO international instruments, having adopted the Constitution of Ukraine, our state must find ways to solve new military, political, and legal problems. All the above-mentioned documents are aimed at forming a new attitude of the state to the citizen and of the citizen to the state. This attitude should be based on the respect of human rights and freedoms, on the attitude of the citizen (both civilian and military) to the state as to an executor of the public will. All these moral and ethical ideas are rather new and unaccustomed to us.

I turn to the respected audience with the following idea: the main force in the society are citizens, that is we ourselves. We elect the supreme legislation organ, the Parliament, and the President for executing laws, and we hire for our demands the army, the government, the court. All that is done to guarantee the top priority of protecting our rights: the right for life and health, the right for respect of human dignity, the right for inviolability, etc. All the governmental structures exist just for the protection of our rights and freedoms. they serve to us, not we to them. Thus we must change the consciousness of our people. the legal enlightenment of a citizen is one of the main basic elements of constructing a law-abiding state.

I want to remind that almost a year before the adoption of the Constitution, on 29 May 1995, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted the resolution ‘On the programme of the legal education of Ukrainian population’ signed by the then acting Prime-Minister E.Marchuk and Minister V.Pustovoytenko. Then the All-Ukrainian Interagency Coordinating Council of legal education was created headed by the Minister of Justice and including representatives of twenty other ministries and agencies.

What concerns the army, then from the very beginning of reconstruction of the armed forces a proper attention to legal education of servicemen was paid. In June 1993 K.Morozov, the Minister of Defense, issued Order No.136 ‘On the organization of legal education in the armed forces’, and, correspondingly, the Resolution ‘On the organization of legal education of servicemen of all categories’ was prepared.

As far as I know one of the principal tasks of the preparation of servicemen is the improvement of their legal education. Yet we know that a goof right is the right that is realized in practice. In Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine it is stated that everybody has the right to be informed about one’s rights. Thus, the first step is the distribution of information on human rights. A serviceman is a citizen under the uniform. Take for example the recruiting campaign. Young men, who yesterday were civil citizens, put on the uniform and at once they are subjected to a lot of duties with cruel punishments if they are not fulfilled. And what about the servicemen’s rights?

The military commandment was very hospitable and we, soldiers’ mothers, were shown barracks, a museum, etc. We were shown many posters and stands which explain the duties and the punishments, but there was not a single stand about servicemen’s rights. We think that the Ministry of Defense with other interested organizations should write and distribute booklets about the rights of young people before, during and after recruiting. Now we have a lot of problems in the army, but the situation of ignorance of their rights by servicemen demands the immediate solution.

In principle, all the complex of soldiers’ problems — this is the violation of inviolability which is followed by abuse of dignity. To solve these problems, it is necessary to work with officers, to think and to find ways out. It is necessary to give soldiers the opportunity to leave the barracks much more often for communicating with their relatives and friends. That is why it is necessary to realize, as fast as possible, the territorial principle of completing military units.

Maybe, it will be useful to introduce new forms of discussing life in the military collectives by organizing officers’ and soldiers’ and mixed meetings for solving current problems. This all is a long and complicated work, and it must be started at once, because we have already lost seven years.
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