ZMINA offers Ministry of Internal Affairs assistance in verifying integrity of volunteers to prevent their prosecution
On December 5, on Volunteer Day and during the annual Civil Society Development Forum in Kyiv, Liudmyla Yankina, the head of the civil society protection department at the Human Rights Centre ZMINA, stated that she was ready to assist the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor General’s Office in verifying the integrity of volunteers against whom proceedings are opened over embezzlement of humanitarian aid. Often such proceedings are unfair, she said.
According to Yankina, criminal prosecution of volunteers has occurred regularly since the beginning of the full-scale war. mostly under Article 201-2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine on the sale of humanitarian aid or profit from charity donations or free aid.
As the human rights activist says, volunteers are often prosecuted unfairly, and their cases do not have elements of a crime, and therefore should be closed. Yankina also notes that law enforcement officers often direct their forces to search not for fraudsters but people who did nothing and who are often famous and work publicly.
Therefore, according to the expert, before prosecuting volunteers, the police should study their reputation. ZMINA enjoys trust in the volunteer community and is ready to be a negotiating platform between law enforcement officers and volunteers, Yankina underscores.
“After the pressure, volunteers do not just feel bad emotionally, they also cannot work normally after criminal proceedings are opened. It is unacceptable when, in the conditions of war, the army needs are met by the total efforts of volunteers. Therefore, we now help to prove that such cases against volunteers do not have elements of a crime and therefore they should be closed,” the human rights activist comments.
Yankina also believes that volunteers should also be protected from fraud. According to her, currently law enforcement officers often refuse to investigate such fraud cases, so volunteers have to solve these problems on their own. Therefore, according to the human rights activist, the state should not only investigate such cases and find the culprits but also deal with the cyber security of volunteers.
Background. The Civil Society Development Forum is the largest national platform for training, communicating and exchanging experience in the field of organizational development of charity and non-governmental organizations. For the first time, the Organizational Development Forum was held in 2012, and since then, the number of participants and the amount of public attention to the forum has been growing every year. This year, the 12th annual forum was held under the slogan “What will give us strength”, you can watch broadcasts of the forum events here.