Ukraine: Military service, including whether a Roma volunteer subject to a three-year contract can be automatically promoted to the rank of sergeant, regardless of competence; reasons under which a three-year contract is terminated, including consequences (2012- Feb 2015) [UKR105100.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Assignments of Rank for Contractual Soldiers in the Ukrainian Army

According to Section 22 of "The Regulations on the Performance of Military Service by Soldiers (Seamen), Sergeants, and Sergeants-Major of the Armed Forces," which was found within The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine, a book of Ukrainian laws published by the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) [1] in 2006, "[t]he first military rank of soldier is awarded to the citizens called up for active military service on the day of arrival in the military commissariat to be further sent to a military unit by the order of the military commissioner" (Ukraine 2002, Sect. 22). The Regulations further state that

[M]ilitary ranks of senior soldier, senior seaman, sergeants and sergeant-major are awarded to the serviceman taking into account their professional and business qualities, organisational abilities, military and special training, experience in the post occupied by them and other conditions stipulated by these Regulations.

Servicemen of active military service, reservists and women enlisted in contractual military service have the military ranks of soldier, sergeants and sergeant-major kept for them up to their enrolment in contractual military service. (ibid.)

Section 23 of the Regulations outlines the professional qualifications required to hold senior rankings as follows:

23. The following military ranks are awarded:

  1. Senior soldier (the senior seaman) - to privates (seamen) who execute their military duties well and have excellent parameters in combat training, exemplary military discipline and appointed to the posts the lists of staff stipulate the military rank of senior soldier (senior seaman) for, and also as a sign of encouragement;
  2. Junior sergeants (sergeants-major of second rank) - to privates who graduated from special courses in educational military units (centres) under the programme of training of sergeants (sergeants-major) and appointed to the posts of sergeants (sergeants-major);
  3. Sergeants (sergeants-major of the first rank) - to junior sergeants (sergeants-major of second rank) having served on the posts of sergeants (sergeants-major) for no less than 6 months, worthy of being awarded the next military rank and appointed to the posts presupposing the military rank of sergeants (sergeants-major of the first rank) (ibid., Sect. 23)

The Regulations further state that the military rank of senior soldier is awarded by commanders of military units with disciplinary authority at the ship of 3rd rank and above (ibid. Sect. 25). Junior sergeants, sergeants, and senior sergeants must be awarded their rank by "commanders of brigades, regiments, the ships of 1st and 2nd ranks, individual battalions, and by the chiefs having the equal rights, and above" (ibid.). Information on the application of these Regulations could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Promotion in Rank for Contractual Soldiers in the Ukrainian Army

Section 37 of the Regulations states that "[p]romotion of the soldiers (seamen), sergeants and sergeants-major is carried out depending on their service conformity, moral-business qualities, the state of health and the presence of vacancies" (Ukraine 2002, Sect. 37). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan, who specializes in contemporary Ukrainian politics, expressed the opinion that it is unlikely that promotion to the rank of sergeant in the Ukrainian army "can occur without some elemental criteria being met, especially performance and competence" (Professor 3 Mar. 2015).

According to sources, a promotion in rank may be given to a soldier as a means of "encouragement" by superior officers (KhPG 6 Mar. 2015; Ukraine 2009, Part II, Sect. 3). The 2009 Law of Ukraine "On the Disciplinary Regulations of the Civil Defence Service states that "[e]ncouragement measures, such as pre-term conferment of the next special rank and the conferment of the next special rank" are applied to the "rank and file personnel and officers who displayed successful results in fulfilling their service duties" (ibid.). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG), a Ukrainian institution which provides analysis of the human rights situation in Ukraine and provides assistance to Ukrainian victims of human rights abuses (n.d.), stated that "the rank of sergeant can be conferred as an encouragement by commanders of regiments (ships of 1st rank), brigades, and officials who have equal with them or higher rights" (KhPG 6 Mar. 2015).

3. Termination of a Voluntary Contract Within the Ukrainian Armed Forces

According to Article 23 of The Law of Ukraine "On Military Duty and Military Service" found within the 2013 edition of The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine

23. 2. For citizens of Ukraine who are enlisted in military service on a contractual basis for the first time, the duration of military service in calendar terms is the following:

  • For servicemen enlisted in the rank of privates - three years;
  • For servicemen enlisted in the ranks of sergeants and sergeant-majors - five years (Ukraine 1992, Art. 23)

Sources state that a military contract can be terminated prematurely due to issues of non-compliance (Ukraine 2002, Sect. 85; Professor 3 Mar. 2015). According to the Professor, "[i]nsubordination and lack of discipline are treated according to standard protocol and applies in the Ukrainian military as it would in other militaries. If the evidence [of insubordination] is there, their contract would be terminated and they would be dishonourably discharged" (ibid.). The same source further stated that if the misconduct involved a documented assault, the offender "would be tried and convicted in a military court according to the provisions under the law" (ibid.). Article 26, section 6 of The Law of Ukraine "On Military Duty and Military Service," found within the 2013 edition of The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine, states that a contract is terminated, and the serviceman doing contractual military service is discharged in the following situations:

6. The contract expires (terminated) and servicemen in contractual military service are discharged from military service:

  1. After the expiration of the contract's duration;
  2. For health reasons- on the basis of the conclusion (decision) of a military medical commission: poor condition or limited fitness for military service;
  3. For age reasons- after the attainment of the service age limit;
  4. In connection with staff reductions or organizational measures- if it is impossible to retain them on service;
  5. For family circumstances or other important reasons, the list of which is determined by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine;
  6. Professionally unfit;
  7. In connection with a court conviction which has entered into force and envisions a sentence in the form of deprivation or restriction of liberty, deprivation of a military rank or of the right to occupy certain posts;
  8. In connection with the deprivation of the military rank as a disciplinary measure;
  9. In connection with a systematic failure of military superiors to carry out contract provisions (at serviceman's request);
  10. In connection with a systematic failure of servicemen to carry out contract provisions (Ukraine 1992, Art. 26)

According to the 2009 Law of the Ukraine "On the Disciplinary Regulations of the Civil Defence Service," an insignificant violation of service discipline by a rank and file soldier may result in a verbal warning by his superior (Ukraine 2009, Part III). However, a violationan incident of a gross disciplinary misconduct may result in the superior officer removing the individual from his service duties (ibid.). The same source further states that superior officers may enforce the following disciplinary actions in penance for insubordination: reproof, reprimand, severe reprimand, a compliance warning, dismissal from service due to contract compliance violations, dismissal from office, and demotion in rank by one degree (ibid.). The 2009 Law of the Ukraine "On the Disciplinary Regulations of the Civil Defence Service," is attached to this Response. Information on the application of this Law could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

4. Roma Within the Armed Forces

The representative of KhPG stated that all citizens of Ukraine have the right to join the military if they meet the requirements for service (KhPG 6 March 2015). She explained that, since Ukrainian citizenship documents do not display information about ethnic origin, "individuals of Roma nationality can perform military service and be promoted within the Ukrainian Army" (ibid.). The Professor expressed his view that the Ukrainian army does not have an active policy of "discrimination against any identifiable race, religious, or ethnic community" (Professor 3 Mar. 2015). However, the Professor noted that the Ukrainian army "would not be immune to social attitudes" and that "[s]ocial discrimination of the Roma people in Ukraine is well documented. ... In this regard, discriminatory attitudes and beliefs of [superior] officers would have bearing on promotion" (ibid.). Further information on the treatment of Roma within the Ukrainian Armed Forces could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response, but sources corroborate that Roma in Ukraine experience discrimination (ERRC 16 Jul. 2013, 9; US 27 Feb. 2014, 44). A report published by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), a Budapest-based international public interest law organization "working to combat anti-Romani racism and human rights abuse of Roma" (n.d.), states that "Ukrainian Roma frequently cannot find work due to both the difficult economic situation and outright racial discrimination" (ERRC 16 Jul. 2013, 9). The US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013 states that Roma in Ukraine "face governmental and social discrimination" (US 27 Feb. 2014, 43). For further information on the discrimination of ethnic minority groups in Ukraine, including Roma, please see Response to Information Request UKR104175.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Note

[1] The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) is an international foundation established by the Swiss government whose mission is "to assist the international community in pursuing good governance and reform of the security sector" (DCAF n.d.).

References

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC). 16 July 2013. Ukraine Country Profile 2011-2012. [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015]

_____. N.d. "Who We Are." [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015]

Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). N.d. "About Us." [Accessed 10 Mar. 2015]

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG). 6 March 2015. Correspondence from a representative of the Strategic Litigation Center to the Research Directorate.

_____. N.d. "A Brief Introduction to the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KhPG)." [Accessed 6 Mar. 2015]

Professor of political studies, University of Saskatchewan. 3 March 2015. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Ukraine. 2009. Law of Ukraine "On the Disciplinary Regulations of the Civil Defence Service." The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine. 2013. Edited by Philipp Fluri et al. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015]

_____.2002 (amended 2004). Regulations on the Performance of Military Service by Soldiers (Seamen), Sergeants and Sergenats-Major of the Armed Forces. The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine. 2006. Edited by Philipp Fluri et al. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015]

_____. 1992 (amended 2013). Law of Ukraine "On Military Duty and Military Service." The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine. 2013. Edited by Philipp Fluri et al. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015]

United States (US). 27 February 2014. Department of State. "Ukraine." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013. [Accessed 6 Mar. 2015]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: The following were unable to provide information for this Response: American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative; European Roma Rights Centre; International Fellowship of Reconciliation; Professor of political studies at the University of Ottawa; Professor of political studies at the University of Waterloo; Professor of public and international affairs at the University of Ottawa; Promirsi Lawyers Association.

Attempts to contact the following were unsuccessful within the time constraints of this Response: Aga Partners Law Firm; Alesksandrov & Partners Attorneys Co.; Astapov Lawyers; Asters Law Company; Canada – Embassy to Ukraine; Centre for Civil Liberties;

Human Rights House Ukraine; Kravets & Partners Law Company; Ukraine – Department of Defence, Embassy to Canada, Embassy to the United States, Permanent Mission to the United Nations; Ukraine Crisis Media Centre; Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation.

Internet sites, including: Agence France Presse; Al Jazeera; Amnesty International; BBC; Brookings Institution; ecoi.net; Factiva; Human Rights Watch; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Reuters; Romea.cz; Ukraine – Department of Defence; Ukraine Crisis Media Centre; Ukrainian Crisis Updates; Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union; Ukrainian Legal Aid Foundation; US – Central Intelligence Agency; Woodrow Wilson Centre for Scholars.

Attachment

Ukraine. 2009. Law of Ukraine "On the Disciplinary Regulations of the Civil Defence Service." The Security Sector Legislation of Ukraine. 2013. Edited by Philipp Fluri et al. The Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF). [Accessed 26 Feb. 2015]