Ukrainian PM defends phone rights for Russian POWs amid petition

Prisoners of war
Prisoners of war

The right of Russian prisoners of war (POWs) to call their families is an important means of making the enemy not afraid to surrender, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on April 30 in response to a petition calling for its suspension.

Shmyhal noted that these communications play a crucial role in encouraging Russian soldiers to surrender by demonstrating that Ukraine adheres to international conventions and provides proper detention conditions.

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"Telephone conversations with relatives perform an important informational function, providing objective information to the Russians that they should not be afraid to surrender, as Ukraine complies with all the provisions of the Convention and ensures proper conditions of detention of prisoners of war," Shmyhal explained. He added that an increase in the number of Russian POWs could help facilitate the release of more Ukrainian defenders currently held in captivity.

According to Shmyhal, the phone calls are allowed according to a daily schedule during free time, and the duration of each conversation can be limited to 15 minutes by the camp administration. Written permission from the investigator, prosecutor, or court in a criminal case is required to exercise the right to make phone calls.

The Geneva Convention supports the rights of POWs to send and receive letters and postcards, and the International Red Cross Committee further confirms that prisoners should be able to communicate with their families via phone, video calls, or recorded messages.

The petition to halt Russian POWs' phone calls garnered the necessary 25,000 votes on April 12. The petitioner, Inna Turova, argued that Ukrainian defenders held in Russian prisons are deprived of similar contact, lacking any information about their health or whereabouts and unable to verify that they are alive through voice contact. However, Shmyhal's decision upholds the existing protocol, reflecting Ukraine's commitment to international law and humane treatment of detainees.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine