Russia Flouts Geneva Convention in Crimea
Russia is forcing Crimean residents to join the military in violation of international norms
Russia has no right to conscript people of Crimea for service in the national army as this is a grave violation of international law, Human Rights Watch stated.
“As an occupying power, Russia not only has no right to conscript people in Crimea, but its draft is blatantly violating international law,” Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch Hugh Williamson said.
According to the statement based on the data provided by Russia’s Defense Ministry, HRW stated Russia has conscripted about 18,000 to 18,900 men in Crimea since the occupation started in 2014.
An investigation carried by the analysts of the organization indicates that Russian-controlled Crimean Courts also issuing criminal charges against people who refuse to serve in its armed forces.
“[Human Rights Watch] identified 71 criminal draft evasion cases and 63 guilty verdicts between 2017 and 2019. The true number of such cases is most likely higher, as not all cases and judgments have been made public. In most cases, defendants were fined between 5,000 and 60,000 rubles (US$77 to $1,000),” the statement reads.
The organization also says that for Crimean residents the choice is between being conscripted or facing a real risk of criminal prosecution. Under Russian law, draft evasion is a criminal offense punishable by a fine or up to two years in prison.
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, the statement underlines, to which Russia is a party, an occupying power may not compel residents of the occupied territory to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. It also explicitly prohibits any “pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment.”
Human Rights Watch organization urges Russia to immediately cease violation and to release Crimeans who have been forced to serve in the Russian forces and abide by its obligations as an occupying power.