Canadian Sanctions Related to Belarus

Types of sanctions

Asset freeze

Financial Prohibitions

Recent developments

  • 2020-10-14 - Regulations were amended
  • 2020-10-02 - Permit order was made
  • 2020-09-29 - Regulations were implemented
Do you need a permit or certificate?

Prohibitions

Sanctions related to Belarus have been enacted under the Special Economic Measures Act in response to the gross and systematic human rights violations that have been committed in Belarus.

The Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations impose a dealings prohibition, an effective asset freeze, on listed persons. The Regulations prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from:

  • dealing in property, wherever situated, that is owned, held or controlled by listed persons or a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
  • entering into or facilitating any transaction related to a dealing prohibited by these Regulations;
  • providing any financial or related services in respect of a dealing prohibited by these Regulations;
  • making available any goods, wherever situated, to a listed person or a person acting on behalf of a listed person; and
  • providing any financial or other related services to or for the benefit of a listed person.

Causing, facilitating or assisting in prohibited activities is likewise prohibited.

The individuals listed in the Schedule to the Regulations are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Exceptions

The above-noted asset freeze and dealings prohibitions do not apply to the following activities or transactions:

  • payments made by or on behalf of a listed person pursuant to contracts entered into prior to the coming into force of the Regulations, provided that the payments are not made to a listed person or to a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
  • transactions necessary for a Canadian to transfer to a non-listed person any accounts, funds or investments of a Canadian held by a listed person on the day on which that person became listed;
  • dealings with a listed person required with respect to loan repayments made to any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside Canada, for loans entered into with any person other than a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or repayments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
  • dealings with a listed person required with respect to loan repayments made to any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside Canada, for loans entered into with a listed person before that person became a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or repayments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
  • pension payments to any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada;
  • financial services required in order for a listed person to obtain legal services in Canada with respect to the application of any of the prohibitions set out in these Regulations;
  • transactions in respect of accounts at financial institutions held by diplomatic missions, provided that the transaction is required in order for the mission to fulfill its diplomatic functions under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or transactions required in order to maintain the mission premises if the diplomatic mission has been temporarily or permanently recalled;
  • transactions with any international organization with diplomatic status, agencies of the United Nations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, or with any entity that has entered into a grant or contribution agreement with Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada; and
  • transactions by the Government of Canada that are provided for in any agreement or arrangement between Canada and Belarus.

Permits and Certificates

A separate Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Permit Authorization Order made pursuant to subsection 4(4) of the Special Economic Measures Act authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada a permit to carry out a specified activity or transaction, or any class of activity or transaction, that is otherwise restricted or prohibited pursuant to the Regulations.

Background

On August 9, 2020, the Republic of Belarus held presidential elections marred by widespread irregularities. Under the direction of President Alexander Lukashenko, the Government of Belarus led a systematic campaign of repression during the lead up to the vote and through the conduct of the election itself. Following the vote, state-sponsored violence was used against the people of Belarus in an effort to suppress anti-government protests. Numerous observers reported a range of human rights violations, including violations of the Belarusian people’s right to free and fair elections, liberty and security of the person, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and due process. These actions were strongly condemned by Canada and other members of the international community, including the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In the aftermath of the violence, some detainees were released, and there was a halt in the large-scale violence towards peaceful protestors, however, the Government of Belarus has not been held accountable for its human rights violations. These include prolonged arbitrary detentions, brutality, intimidation, and the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors, including through the use of water cannons, flash grenades, rubber-coated bullets, tear gas, and the use of live ammunition. There are also credible allegations of the use of torture and sexual violence against those unjustly detained. Arbitrary arrests and detentions continue, including the detention of prominent opposition figures. In addition, there are undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

Canada has been strongly engaged in the situation in Belarus, directly with the Government of Belarus and with international partners, as well as in multilateral forums such as at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Media Freedom Coalition and Freedom Online Coalition. There is no indication that the Government of Belarus is genuinely committed to finding a negotiated solution with opposition groups, nor in ensuring accountability for those responsible for gross and systematic human rights violations. Appropriate steps to restore democratic rights or to address ongoing human rights violations have also not been taken.

On September 29, 2020, Canada, in coordination with the United Kingdom, imposed sanctions against 11 Belarusian officials via the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations.

On October 14, 2020, Canada imposed further sanctions against an additional 31 Belarusian officials by amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations. These actions were taken in coordination with the European Union.

Selected documents

Regulations

Regulations and Orders made under the Special Economic Measures Act:

Announcements

Announcements related to the Regulations made under the Special Economic Measures Act:

Related links

Legal advice

Please be advised that Global Affairs Canada cannot provide legal advice to members of the public. For this reason, we cannot deliver an opinion as to whether or not a specific activity or transaction would contravene sanctions legislation. You should consider seeking legal advice in relation to an activity that may contravene a Canadian sanction law.

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