Ukraine president signs bill allowing convicts to enlist in army News
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Ukraine president signs bill allowing convicts to enlist in army

Ukrainian President Zelensky signed a convict mobilization bill into law on Friday that allows incarcerated people to enlist in the army for parole. The signed bill also enables foreigners and stateless people to join the Ukrainian army under the sixth part of Article 1.

The bill contains exclusionary provisions prohibiting certain prisoners from service. Such people include those convicted of serious crimes, such as rape and the murder of two or more individuals or under gruesome circumstances. Convicts must still meet the regular requirements for military service. An example is Article 154, a preliminary medical test needs to be conducted before the application for parole is submitted in this manner.

The proposed bill had also been amended to remove service as an option for Ukrainian officials convicted of corruption.  This seeks to combat the concerns previously held by the Ukrainian NGO Corruption Action Centre that the officials might capitalize on the bill as a means to evade prison with substituted military service.

A demobilization provision was also removed.  The deputy of the Ukrainian parliament comments that the news of its removal is disappointing, as he was its primary advocate. The consequence is that the service end date for conscripted convicts remains ambiguous. Due to the ambiguous concluding date, the Protection for Prisoners organization remains hesitant to praise the implementation of the new law. Ultimately, the question remains whether military-based parole means fighting for the remaining duration of the war.

There are also punishments specified for convicts who contractually enlist but evade service. The amendments to the Criminal Code Article 336 explain that a prisoner who evades service but contractually agrees to military service as a form of parole shall face five to ten years of imprisonment.