Human rights defenders developed a guide for relatives of civilian hostages

If a member of your family is a civilian hostage and has not been in touch for a long time, please
follow the advice given in this guide. We provide step-by-step instructions on what to do and whom to

  1. Registering the instance of captivity or disappearance. Please use the following hotlines:
    ● The National Police Hotline for Finding Missing or Dead Persons 0 800 21 21 51 and 089 420
    ● National Information Bureau under the Ministry for Reintegration 1648 and 0442878165
    ● Commissioner for Human Rights: 0800501720
    ● The OHCHR’s Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine ohchr-hrmmu@un.org Telegram:
    ohchr_hrmmu (messages only) Viber: +380503746708 (messages only)
    ● International Committee of the Red Cross: Hotline 0800300155 Search service 0963044375,
    ● Joint Center for Search and Release of Prisoners: +380676508332,+380980873601
    Important: Calling the police hotline is NOT the same as instituting criminal proceedings, it is merely a
    report that is likely to be registered under the Law of Ukraine on Appeals by Citizens; therefore, you
    MUST draft a report requesting institution of criminal proceedings and send it to the police or directly
    to the Security Service of Ukraine.
    Another important thing: In your report of a crime, you should demand recognition as a victim, since
    victims are entitled to more procedural rights. Until you are recognized as a victim and have been
    issued the card of your procedural rights and duties, you enjoy the status of an applicant or witness.
  2. Please contact the nearest police station in person: Provide all the information about those who
    became civilian hostages, the circumstances and time of their captivity. Upon giving your testimony,
    you will be issued the criminal proceedings number.
    After the police have taken your testimony, SSU officers should pay a visit to you to clarify matters in
    the case, as it is the SSU that will be investigating the crime.
    However, we recommend that you contact them yourself.
    On classification of the crime. If there is solid evidence of the person’s capture by the invaders, this
    crime is classified under Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. If there is no communication with
    a person who is in the territory not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities, this is also classified under
    Article 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. If the proceedings have been instituted with a different
    classification, it may be changed subsequently, although this will take some time.
  3. Please contact the Security Service of Ukraine in person, presenting a document certifying your
    identity and a document evidencing your relationship with the missing person (marriage certificate,
    birth certificate, etc.). You may apply to the oblast unit or, preferably, to the Main SSU Unit in Kyiv
    (33 Volodymyrska St.).
    At the checkpoint, the duty investigator will meet you and take your application in the public reception
    room. Otherwise, a pass will be issued to you, and you will be escorted to the investigator’s office.
    The investigator must be provided with all available information and evidence of your family member
    becoming a civilian hostage. You should also provide the following (if any): the phone number from
    which your family member called, the frame-by-frame screen capture of the video in which he/she was
    seen, screenshots of posts in Telegram chats, etc.

After that, a letter of non-disclosure and an interview report will be signed between you (the applicant)
and the SSU.
You will be provided with the case number and contact data of the investigator assigned to it.
Where no documents evidencing kinship are available, you should apply to the court for establishing
kinship, if this fact entails immediate legal consequences for the applicant, and file a petition for
establishing the legal fact of living as one family.
Information about establishing the fact of living as one family without being married is available at
https://wiki.legalaid.gov.ua/index.php/Встановлення факту проживання однією сім’єю чоловіка та жінки без шлюбу?

  1. After the application has been filed and the case has been opened, you will be provided with the
    criminal proceedings number and meet the investigator who will work on the case. You should obtain
    the investigator’s contact data so that if any new information appears, you would be able to
    communicate it to the investigator immediately and monitor the progress of the case.
  2. Using the help of a lawyer, contact the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with a
    request for humanitarian aid or establishing communication with the captured family member.
    The Ukrainian version of the ICRC website with contact data in Ukraine is available at
    The English version of the ICRC website with contact data of the Geneva Headquarters is available at
    We recommend that you put your request on paper and send it to the Geneva Headquarters from a
    European country.

If the status and whereabouts of your family member are unknown:

  1. Apply to the nearest police station with a report stating that communication with your family
    member has been lost.
    After the report has been filed, you will be issued a document indicating the criminal proceedings
    number in the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations.
  2. If you are a family member (father, mother, child), submit your DNA for a DNA test (the police will
    provide you with all the necessary information).
    If the DNA cannot be obtained, a petition should be filed with the court for exhuming the parents’ or
    children’s bodies in order to extract the genome of the deceased for a DNA test.
    After that, you will have to wait to see if there is a match. A partial match is not regarded as
    Besides, the missing person’s belongings may be seized to extract DNA traces.
    After taking all the above steps, you should contact the Commissioner for Persons Missing
    Under Special Circumstances. Contact phones: 0800339247 and 0958960421

IMPORTANT: Never pay for any services at any of these steps. Any offers of services for a fee mostly
come from crooks.

You should also record any mentions made of your family member: every time you see his/her photo
or video in Telegram channels, download them, take screenshots and forward them to the
investigator. This may help to establish whereabouts.
It is important to understand that, given the ongoing war in the country, any investigation of crimes
cannot be fully effective in practice; therefore, you should facilitate it by independently searching for
evidence, confirmation (videos, photos, etc.), and passing it to the investigator.
On applications to international institutions:
Together with your lawyer, draft an appeal to the UN Human Rights Committee. If you don’t know any
lawyers and need help with this, please contact us at evromaidansos@gmail.com.

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