Ukraine’s parliament has passed draft law No. 11079-1 on the voluntary mobilization of convicts to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). The bill passed in its second reading on May 8, with President Volodymyr Zelensky’s signature now needed for it to enter into force.

Olena Shulyak, people’s deputy and head of the pro-presidential “Servant of the People” party stated that the consolidation of all forces is necessary to survive in the face of “a total war against a more resourceful enemy.” She added that “this draft law is about our struggle and preservation of Ukrainian statehood.”

Those with longer sentences, especially life sentences, will be immediately refused without the possibility of review. In particular, the draft law prohibits mobilization for individuals convicted of the most serious offences, such as:

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  • Crimes that threaten the national security of Ukraine
  • Pre-meditated murder of two or more people
  • Rape, sexual violence, molestation of minors
  • Causing death while driving under the influence
  • Illegal drug-related activities
  • Corruption offenses.

Shulyak specified that the approved draft law allows parole to be considered for military service for those convicted of involuntary manslaughter. In all cases, no more than three years should remain before the end of their sentence.

Process for military draft of convicts

The bill allows prisoners to be released on parole for military service under contract. Convicts can join the ranks of the AFU at their own request but only upon court approval.

They will be able to submit a statement at their penitentiary institution, undergo a medical examination in prison, and then proceed to the Territorial Recruitment Center (TRC). Only those prisoners who have a sufficient level of physical training and are mentally healthy will be mobilized.

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Approved individuals will then enter into a contract for military service in the AFU, occupying positions ranging from private to officer, based on their military rank as listed in the military register.

Shulyak clarified that former prisoners will be assigned exclusively to specialized military units, the creation of which will be determined by the Ministry of Defense.

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The draft law mandates a prison sentence of five to ten years for individuals who evade military service by refusing to sign a contract with the AFU while being eligible for parole for military service.

If such a person commits a new crime while serving in the AFU, the unserved part of the sentence from the previous conviction will be added to the punishment imposed for the new offense.

Military personnel paroled for service in the AFU will not be granted annual leave. However, based on the opinion of the Military Medical Commission, they may be granted leave for treatment after a wound, contusion, trauma, or mutilation. This leave will be provided exclusively at the military's place of stay in healthcare facilities.

The draft law was adopted in the first reading by the parliament on April 10. Around 500 amendments were then submitted, of which approximately 80 were taken into account.

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