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Legal aid for participants of ATO and their families
Natalia Bimbiraite, head of IRC “Legal Space”, explains that legal issues linked to ATO Photo by Anna Martyniuk
Natalia Bimbiraite, head of IRC “Legal Space”, explains that legal issues linked to ATO

Five Community Law Centers join efforts to protect the rights of ATO (anti-terrorist operation) participants and their families.

The Centers’ lawyers will provide free legal aid to mobilized persons. Moreover, they will study existing legislative documents and monitor the implementation of ATO legislation in five regions of Ukraine (Kherson, Kharkiv, Volyn, Chernihiv, Kyiv).

Olena Matviychuk, head of Kovel Community Law Center in Volyn region, tells that the Centers’ work will help to pin down major problems in existing legislation and give substantive material for advocating changes to the Law on local or national level. On the other hand, positive experience in resolving legal issues of ATO participants will help develop a set of recommendations and instructions for others. The Centers will work for six months and plan to share their best practices in other regions of Ukraine.

Community Law Centers have been providing free primary legal aid to ATO participants for months. Our lawyers have been going on field visits to military bases in order to provide direct legal services to soldiers. Natalia Bimbiraite, head of IRC “Legal Space”, explains that legal issues linked to ATO are numerous and need urgent response. We still have cases of unpaid salaries and social benefits. Status of ATO participant is difficult to obtain (only after severe wounds). Mechanisms of free medical aid to veterans are not working properly. Legal status of captives is still undetermined. People are left alone with their problems. Some bureaucratic measures create absurd situations. For example, soldiers can receive free medical aid only in their native region where they are registered. A soldier from Ternopil who is serving in Kherson has to travel back home to receive free medical aid. The system is not working. Community Law Centers are now trying to help a maximum of people who return from ATO zone and need legal aid. The work of Centers’ is aimed at protecting rights and decrease social tensions.

During a working meeting in Kyiv, the Centers’ representatives agreed on a schedule of consultations, monitoring documentation and prepared a media-plan. Contact information will soon be published on “Legal Space” portal.

Furthermore, our “LegalSpace” portalcan provide on-line legal aid services: you can address our lawyers directly via chat mode or leave a comment on our forums.

Additional information
The project “Free legal aid to ATO participants and their families” is implemented by five Community Law Centers from Kovel, Kherson, Bila Tserkva, Chernihiv, Chuhuev. The project is funded by International Renaissance Foundation, “Human rights and justice” programme initiative. Media support to the project is provided by IRC “Legal Space”.

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