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18 Apr. 2023

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Fines, jail or the front line: what men who went abroad illegally face

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Fines, jail or the front line: what men who went abroad illegally face

Despite the martial law in Ukraine, men of military age manage to cross the border illegally. Find out more about the penalties for illegal travel and whether violators can be imprisoned

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Since February 24, 2022, Ukraine has been under martial law, which has a number of restrictions for citizens. Among them is a ban on traveling abroad for men who have reached conscription age (from 18 to 60 years old). Only a certain category of men can leave the country and only if they have supporting documents.

Earlier, we talked about all available legal ways for Ukrainians to leave.

However, many conscripts try to circumvent the law and leave Ukraine without any valid grounds. Someone resorts to tricks, someone tries to forge documents or takes advantage of the relaxations that the state has made for volunteers and certain categories of Ukrainians who work for Victory.

Quite often, law enforcement agencies publish information about the disclosure of schemes of illegal departure of men abroad, and the organizers are brought to criminal liability. And what can threaten men who have already illegally left the country? The opinion of experts in our material.


Is it possible to prosecute men who are already abroad?


The spokesman of the border guard Andriy Demchenko said on the air of the telethon that the state is actively working on the procedure of returning to Ukraine men who illegally left its borders and bringing them to justice.

It is already difficult for men who illegally left the country's borders to settle in Europe, in particular to obtain the status of temporary protection, because they do not have legal grounds for this.

The State Border Service also cooperates with colleagues in the EU and Moldova on improving the border crossing procedure and countering any attempts at illegal border crossing.


What is the threat to men who have illegally left the country?


According to the legislation of Ukraine, crossing the border by a person who does not have the right to do so or violating the rules of crossing the border, for example, leaving with forged documents, is an illegal border crossing. Liability for this type of offense is prescribed in the legislation.

As RBC-Ukraine writes, according to Oleksandr Tregub, a senior lawyer of the "Right to Defense" BF: "Several types of liability are provided for men who illegally left Ukraine - administrative and criminal. The punishment is chosen depending on each individual case".


Criminal liability for men who illegally left the country


Criminal liability is provided for:

• Forgery of documents, seals, stamps and forms, sale or use of forged documents, seals, stamps. That is, if a man used forged documents to cross the border: a passport, fictitious certificates, forged conclusions of the military medical commission on recognition of unfitness, etc., then the culprit may face criminal liability - a fine or imprisonment.

• For offering, promising or providing an unlawful benefit to an official. If a man tries to bribe a border guard during his departure, he is threatened with deprivation of liberty. An important clarification is that liability arises precisely for the offer to give a bribe and does not depend on whether you managed to leave or the border guard refused. The punishment is a fine or imprisonment for a term of up to 4 years.

• Evasion of conscription for military service during mobilization. If the court manages to prove that the man illegally crossed the border precisely for the purpose of evading mobilization, then he can be prosecuted under this article. The punishment in this case is imprisonment for a term of 3 to 5 years.


Administrative responsibility for illegal border crossing by Ukrainians


Administrative responsibility is provided in the event of an attempt to illegally cross the border or in case of illegal crossing, i.e. crossing the border outside checkpoints (through a forest, river, etc.), disguised as a woman with someone else's passport, in the trunk of a car, etc.

The commission of this administrative offense is punishable by a fine in the amount of 3,400 to 8,500 hryvnias or administrative arrest.


What penalties can be imposed for illegal border crossing?


Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Verkhovna Rada has been actively working on making relevant changes to the legislation of Ukraine. Currently, several draft laws have been proposed or are being considered, which may change the system of penalties for illegal border crossing, in particular:

• Registered draft law No. 7268, which proposes to add an article to the Criminal Code of Ukraine that would provide for criminal liability for illegal border crossing by conscripts during martial law. That is, instead of an administrative fine, the culprit may face imprisonment for a term of 3 to 5 years.

• Draft Law No. 7265 proposed to introduce criminal liability for failure to return to Ukraine after the introduction of martial law. The punishment was supposed to apply to conscript Ukrainians who crossed the border legally, but did not return to Ukraine after the introduction of martial law. According to the draft law, failure to return to Ukraine would be punishable by imprisonment for a term of 5 to 10 years. However, this project was withdrawn from consideration in September 2022.


What is the punishment for men who went abroad under the "Shliah" system and did not return?


So far, there is no information regarding prosecution of men who left on the basis of the "Shliah" system and did not return to Ukraine. However, it can already be clearly said that the law enforcement agencies have questions about the organizations that introduced such a Ukrainian into the system.


We will remind you! Previously, we already told what has changed for conscripts in 2023 and whether the deportation of men who are abroad and registered at the consulate is real.




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