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Canadian Sanctions Related to Belarus

Types of sanctions

Asset freeze

Export and import restrictions

Financial Prohibitions

Technical assistance prohibition

Recent developments

  • 2022-11-17 - Regulations were amended
  • 2022-06-27 - Regulations were amended
  • 2022-04-05 - Regulations were amended
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, as well as Belarus’s support of the Russian Federation’s violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, which constitutes a grave breach of international peace and security that has resulted in a serious international crisis. On September 28, 2020, the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations (“the Regulations”) came into force.

The Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations impose a dealings prohibition, an effective asset freeze, on designated persons listed in Schedule 1. The Regulations prohibit any person in Canada or 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 in Schedule 1;
  • 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 in Schedule 1; and
  • providing any financial or other related services to or for the benefit of a listed person in Schedule 1.

The individuals listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations are also inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

The Regulations also impose restrictions on certain activities relating to transferrable securities and money market instruments, debt financing, insurance and reinsurance, petroleum products, and potassium chloride products. With some exceptions, the Regulations prohibit persons in Canada or Canadians outside Canada from:

  • dealing in transferable securities and money market instruments, including treasury bills, certificates of deposit and commercial papers but not including instruments of payment, issued by specific entities or individuals identified in the Regulations;
  • transacting in, provide financing for or otherwise dealing in debt of longer than 90 days’ maturity, including bonds, loans, debentures, extensions of credit, loan guarantees, letters of credit, bank drafts, bankers’ acceptances, discount notes, treasury bills, commercial paper and other similar instruments in relation to specific entities or individuals identified in the Regulations;
  • providing insurance or reinsurance to specific entities or individuals identified in the Regulations;
  • importing, purchasing, acquiring, shipping or otherwise dealing in any petroleum goods referred to in Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations, wherever situated, that is exported from Belarus, as well as providing any financial, technical or other services such as insurance or reinsurance related to goods subject to this prohibition; and
  • importing, purchasing, acquiring, shipping or otherwise dealing in any potassium chloride goods referred to in Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the Regulations, wherever situated, that is exported from Belarus.

The Regulations also prohibit individuals and entities in Canada from providing any and all insurance, reinsurance, and underwriting services for aircraft, and aviation and aerospace products either owned by, controlled by, registered to, chartered by, or operated by entities and individuals resident, incorporated, or domiciled in Belarus.

The Regulations also prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from exporting, selling, supplying or shipping any good, wherever situated, or to provide any technology, to Belarus or to any person in Belarus, if it is described in the Restricted Goods and Technologies List.

The Regulations also prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from exporting, selling, supplying or shipping any good or technology, wherever situated, to Belarus or to any person in Belarus if the good or technology is referred to in Schedule 3.

The Regulations also prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from exporting, selling, supplying or shipping any luxury good referred to in column 1 of Part 1 to Schedule 4, wherever situated, to Belarus or to any person in Belarus.

The Regulations also prohibit the import, purchase or acquisition by any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada, of any luxury good referred to in column 1 of Part 2 of Schedule 4, wherever situated, from Belarus or from any person in Belarus.

The Regulations also prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from exporting, selling, supplying or shipping any good that could be used for the manufacturing weapons referred to in column 1 of Schedule 5, wherever situated, to Belarus or to any person in Belarus.

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

Exceptions

The above-noted 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.

The above-noted prohibitions on transferrable securities and money market instruments, debt financing, and insurance and reinsurance also do not apply in respect of activities that were undertaken before August 6, 2021.

The above-noted prohibitions on petroleum and potassium chloride products also do not apply to goods or services if a contract for the import, purchase, acquisition or shipment of the goods or other dealing with them or for the provision of the services is entered into before August 6, 2021.

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.

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 have also been credible allegations of the use of torture and sexual violence against those unjustly detained. Arbitrary arrests and detentions continue. In addition, there are undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association.

On May 23, 2021, the Government of Belarus orchestrated an event that was a significant and dangerous escalation in its attacks on opposition voices. Ryanair flight 4978, flying between Athens Greece and Vilnius Lithuania, was diverted to Minsk National Airport at the behest of the Belarusian aviation authorities. The diversion was requested on the premise of a possible bomb threat on board, which turned out to be unsubstantiated. Upon landing in Minsk, two passengers, Belarus journalist and activist Roman Protasevich and his Russian companion Sofia Sapega, were removed from the flight and placed in detention, then later placed under house arrest.

In the summer of 2021, raids were conducted on the homes and offices of a number of Belarus human rights organizations and their staff. Later that month, the government moved to disband a number of civil society groups working on human rights issues.   

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, announced sanctions against 11 Belarusian officials via the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations (the Regulations).

On October 15, 2020, Canada announced further sanctions against an additional 31 Belarusian officials by amending the Regulations. These actions were taken in coordination with the European Union.

On November 6, 2020, Canada announced further sanctions against an additional 13 Belarusian officials by amending the Regulations. These actions were taken in coordination with the European Union.

On June 21, 2021, Canada announced further sanctions against an additional 17 Belarusian individuals and 5 entities by amending the Regulations. These actions were taken in coordination with the European Union, United Kingdom and United States.

On August 9, 2021, Canada announced further sanctions imposing restrictions on certain activities relating to transferrable securities and money market instruments, debt financing, insurance and reinsurance, petroleum products, and potassium chloride products.

On December 2, 2021, Canada announced further sanctions against an additional 24 Belarusian individuals and 7 entities by amending the Regulations. These actions were taken in coordination with the European Union, United Kingdom and United States.

Recent developments

Since the middle of 2021, there has been a rapprochement between Belarus and Russia. Russia is providing diplomatic, financial, military, media and intelligence support to Belarus. On November 30, 2021, Lukashenko stated that Russia-occupied Crimea became legally a part of Russia in 2014, adding that he planned to visit the peninsula with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This marked a significant shift from its earlier statements.

Over the past months there has been a significant build-up of Russian troops (est. 150,000-190,000), military equipment, and military capabilities in and around Ukraine since fall 2021, following months of Russian escalatory behaviour. This includes military exercises in Belarus that included the participation of Belarusian Armed Forces. Russia and Belarus held a joint military exercise from February 10 to 20, 2022. However, on February 20, 2022, Russia extended the joint military exercise with Belarus and announced that Russian troops would not leave Belarus. Belarus’s overall relationships with Ukraine, the U.S., and NATO have also deteriorated, which has led to heightened tensions.

On February 24, 2022, without provocation, Russian forces initiated a comprehensive invasion of Ukraine, including from Belarusian territory. The Belarusian regime aided and abetted this egregious step, which is a blatant violation of international law and the rules-based international order. The attacks have caused widespread devastation of Ukrainian infrastructure and property, and unnecessary deaths of Ukrainians, particularly civilians.

As a result, on March 8, 2022, Canada implemented further sanctions against an additional 19 individuals and 25 entities by amending the Regulations, in coordination with allies, targeting government and financial elites, oligarchs and their family members and associates, as well as entities involved in Belarus’ financial, potash, energy, tobacco, and defence sectors.

On March 16, 2022, Canada further amended the Regulations to add an additional 22 senior officials of the Ministry of Defence of the Government of Belarus for their involvement in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On April 5, 2022, Canada further amended the Regulations to sanction an additional six Belarusian oligarchs and three Deputy Ministers of the Ministry of Defence of Belarus. This amendment also prohibited the provision of all insurance, reinsurance, and underwriting services for aircraft, aviation and aerospace products either owned by, controlled by, registered to, chartered by, or operated by entities and individuals resident, incorporated, or domiciled in Belarus. It also prohibited the export to Belarus of all items in the Restricted Goods and Technologies List.

On June 27, 2022, Canada further amended the Regulations to prohibit the export of certain advanced technologies, certain luxury goods and goods that could be used in the manufacturing of weapons to Belarus, to prohibit the import of certain luxury goods from Belarus, and to list an additional 13 senior officials of the Ministry of Defence of the Government of Belarus and 2 military entities.

On November 17, 2022, Canada further amended the Regulations to list an additional 22 individuals and 16 entities. These individuals are senior Belarusian officials in the military, border agency, and political and civil administration. The entities are military manufacturing, technology and engineering companies, state and privately owned banks and the national railway company.

Selected documents

Regulations

Regulations and Orders 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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