Canadian Sanctions Related to Belarus

Types of sanctions

Asset freeze

Export and import restrictions

Financial Prohibitions

Technical assistance prohibition

Recent developments

  • 2021-12-02 - Regulations were amended
  • 2021-08-06 - Regulations were amended
  • 2021-06-17 - 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.

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 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.

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, 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.

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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