For the period of occupation the RF has launched 7 army conscription campaigns for the Crimean residents. Drafting the occupied territory residents to the occupying power’s army constitutes a war crime, and the evidence of this crime has been sent to the International Criminal Court.
The number of people drafted to the RF Armed Forces in Crimea since the start of occupation has totaled at least 12,094. And it increases year by year. If during the 2015 Year conscription campaign 485 were drafted to the RF Armed Forces, in spring of 2018 2,800 have been drafted already. And 3,000 Crimeans more are to be drafted during the 2018 autumn campaign.
The Crimean Human Rights Group, together with the Prosecutor’s Office of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, the Regional Center for Human Rights, and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union have presented to the ICC various evidence collected during this crime investigation.
Mr Aleksandr Sedov, a CHRG analyst, informed about the work of CHRG experts on collecting this evidence:
‘We have collected 165 legal and regulative documents related to conscription campaigns in Crimea. These documents are issued both by the RF authorities and the representatives of so called ‘administration’ on the occupied peninsula subordinate to the Kremlin. In addition, we have collected 199 publications verifying the drafting in Crimea and stating the number of Crimean drafted to the RF Armed Forces.
We have also reviewed almost 2000 pages in the social networks. As a result, we have found several dozens of draft notices signed by chief enlistment officers on the occupied territory, medals awarded to the Crimean residents for participation in the Syrian military campaign, and several merit certificates handed to the Crimeans by the RF military unit commanders.
A criminal prosecution for refusing the military service in the occupier’s army is the evidence of forcing the Crimeans for the military service in the RF Armed Forces. We have analysed rulings of so called ‘courts’ and found out that at least 40 criminal cases were opened for dodging the RF Armed Forces service including:
- 4 cases were dropped, at least 3 of them subject to a public regret expressed by the defendants and a promise to do the military in the RF Armed Forces;
- 33 sentences were issued including penalties in an amount of RUR7,000 to 80,000, and one suspended 8-month jail sentence;
- 3 cases are still at the court waiting for the sentence.
7 sentences were rendered in 2017, others in 2018 – Mr Sedov said.
Drafting the Crimeans to the RF Armed Forces constitutes a gross violation of international humanitarian law.
Drafting the residents of occupied territories to the occupying power’s army as well as a continuous propaganda of the service in the RF Armed Forces on the territory of Crimea violate Article 51 of the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the Fourth Convention), while transfer of the drafted Ukrainian nationals from the occupied territory to the RF territory flouts its Article 49.
The evidence of unlawful conscription to the RF Armed Forces in Crimea has been received already by the Prosecutor’s Office of the International Criminal Court. The CHRG experts do hope that these files would support the ICC prosecutor to open an investigation on Ukraine, including the war crimes in Crimea.