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25 February 2022

As Ukraine declares martial law over Russia’s invasion, restrictions of personal and property rights in the form of martial law measures take effect. Ordered and enforced by the military acting alone or jointly with civilian authorities, these are set to affect individuals and businesses for the duration of martial law

One safeguard is that the measures only apply to the extent of the restrictions on the constitutional rights and freedoms listed in the decree declaring martial law. In other words, martial law measures may not be carried out in ways that limit the rights and freedoms exempt from the restrictions. 

The measures can be seen as falling into several groups (with possible overlaps):   

  • General, intended to increase security and strengthen defense:

    • stepped-up patrolling and protection of critical infrastructure,

    • imposition of curfew and protective blackouts, 

    • evacuation of population and of state-owned assets where threatened with destruction,

    • introduction of rationing of foodstuffs and other goods,

    • enhanced protection of state secrets,

    • interning nationals of hostile powers.

  • Measures affecting mostly property rights:

    • seizing assets of state enterprises or organizations and compulsory takings of private property,

    • introducing a billeting duty for individuals and organizations to house the military, law enforcement officers and evacuees,

    • seizing military equipment, explosives, radioactive materials, dangerous chemicals and poison held by organizations,

    • seizing, in case of breach of martial law measures, of electronic communications equipment, computers, video and audio devices, and other means of communication of individuals or organizations. 

  • Those concerning primarily individuals:

    • compulsory labor mobilization to perform work for military and defense needs,

    • prohibiting individuals subject to military service from changing their places of residence without permission and restricting where individuals in general may live or stay,

    • restricting entering or leaving specific locations by people or vehicles, and their movement in general,

    • checking IDs and searching vehicles, shipments, personal belongings, premises of individuals and organizations,

    • forbidding holding meetings, demonstrations and other mass events, 

    • initiating steps to ban political parties engaged in anti-Ukrainian or other illegal activities.

  • Measures principally with effect on businesses:

    • taking over facilities or workforce of businesses or other organizations for defense purposes, changing their procedures or working hours,

    • prohibiting sales of arms, dangerous chemicals or poisons, alcoholic drinks or alcohol-based substances,

    • regulating sales of medicines featuring narcotics or similar substances.

Martial law measures also involve controls on mass media and communications. Thus, under them, the authorities may direct the work of electronic communication networks and their operators, publishers and printing works, TV and radio stations, and news organizations. They also may enter and use facilities of local TV and radio stations and of printing works for military purposes and to distribute information. Finally, they may stop the work of personal and collective radio stations and block information transmission over computer networks (e.g., cutting off the internet).

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