Leaders of illegal armed groups controlled by the Russian Federation widely use the practice of involving minors in hostilities.

The Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine has initiated proceedings on numerous facts of involvement of minors in the armed conflict in Donbas.

According to the press service of the department, Department for Crimes Committed in Armed Conflict entered to the Unified Register of Pre-trial Investigations information on regular violations of the laws and customs of war during the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine (Part 1 of Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).

In particular, it has been established that the leaders of illegal armed formations controlled by the Russian Federation have been widely recruiting and involving minors from the temporarily occupied districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts since 2014 in hostilities against units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations.

It is noted that in accordance with Art. 4 of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, ratified by both Ukraine and Russia, States parties should ensure that persons under the age of 18 do not take part in hostilities.

Pre-trial investigation in criminal proceedings is entrusted to the Main Directorate of the Security Service of Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

“Currently, 29 juveniles of Ukraine have been convicted by courts for participating in armed conflict as part of illegal armed groups,” the statement said.

The Office of the Prosecutor General informs that in September 2014, the leaders of one of the illegal armed groups involved a minor, who at that time was only 16 years old, to participate in the activities of this group.

“He was given a firearm and assigned tasks to guard and patrol the building of the SBU Office in the Donetsk region seized by the militants. In addition, the juvenile was involved in direct combat operations against units of the Anti-terrorist Operation forces near the Donetsk International Airport.The court sentenced him to 3 years and 2 months in prison,” the statement reads.

Natalia Tolub

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