Criminal liability for war crimes

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Mamedova Liliya

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Expert in the field of criminal law. Specializes in crimes in the field of corruption, bribery, military activities, crimes in the financial sector and crimes against the foundations of national security. Assistance in the European Court of Human Rights and issues of international investigation.

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Criminal liability for war crimes

Reading time: 3 min.

The full-scale war in Ukraine created new challenges for the military and their commanders. Among these challenges is prosecution for violations of domestic Ukrainian legislation. Criminal responsibility for war crimes is a particularly urgent issue. This is exactly the question that our experts – lawyers Prykhodko and Partners – will reveal in this article.

Let’s start with the fact that every year the number of violations among military personnel increases. Criminal responsibility for war crimes extends to certain categories. A professional lawyer will help to mitigate the punishment or avoid it.


War crime in Ukraine: features of the offense

War crimes are one of the types of criminal offenses that are directed against the procedure established by the current legislation regarding military service.

Important: crimes of this type can be committed not only by military personnel. We are also talking about conscripts during their special training or training sessions.

Therefore, the following categories are responsible for war crimes:

  • Servicemen of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
  • Military conscripts in the course of their military training.
  • Representatives of the State Border Service.
  • SBU employees.
  • Military personnel of the National Guard of Ukraine and other military formations created in Ukraine during the full-scale war.

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Among the most common criminal offenses committed by military personnel under martial law are:

  • Violation of military honor and order of subordination.
  • Illegal actions committed during military service.
  • Disclosure of military secrets.
  • Committing offenses against the order of military service.


Changes made to the Criminal Code of Ukraine

In January 2023, changes were made to the Criminal Code of Ukraine. Courts, in accordance with the current changes, are prohibited from issuing commutations of sentences, as well as from giving suspended terms to military personnel who have been convicted of certain crimes.

Among the most common articles:

  • Voluntary abandonment of the military unit.
  • Desertion.
  • Voluntary abandonment of the battlefield.
  • Disobedience.
  • Failure to comply with the order.
  • Violence or threats against a superior.

We are talking about articles 402-403, 405, 407-408, 429 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Criminal liability depends on the offense committed. For example, the punishment for voluntarily leaving a place of service or military service is imprisonment for a term of 5 to 10 years (Article 407 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). If we are talking about desertion, the punishment is from 5 to 12 years of imprisonment.

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Assistance of professional lawyers in war crimes cases

Conscripts, like any other citizens of Ukraine, have the right to the protection of a professional lawyer. This right is provided for by Article 20 of the Criminal Procedure Code of Ukraine and Article 63 of the Constitution of Ukraine.

It is better to use the help of lawyers Prykhodko and Partners even before the first interrogation. That is, it is best to enlist the support of a lawyer as soon as possible. If it was not possible to do this, our lawyers are able to protect your interests at any stage, even after the sentencing. You can, for example, file a cassation, appeal, petition, etc.

Do you still have questions? We are waiting for a preliminary consultation! To calculate the cost of the services of a lawyer in war crimes cases, fill out the form below.

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