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Canadian Sanctions Related to Terrorist Entities

Types of sanctions

Arms embargo

Asset freeze

Financial Prohibitions

Recent developments

  • 2024-02-02 - Regulations were amended
  • 2023-06-19 - Regulations were amended
  • 2019-03-04 - Regulations were amended
Do you need a permit or certificate?

Prohibitions

Canada has implemented measures to suppress international terrorism under the United Nations Act (UNA) Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA), and the Criminal Code. Together these mechanisms include the following:

  • a prohibition on the export of arms and related material or explosives to any designated person;
  • a prohibition on the provision to any designated person of any technical assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of arms and related material or explosives;
  • a prohibition on providing or collecting funds with the intention that the funds be used, or in the knowledge that the funds are to be used, by a designated person;
  • an assets freeze against any designated person.

Causing, assisting or promoting prohibited activities is likewise prohibited. Additionally, under SEMA, any individual or entity in Canada, and Canadians and Canadian entities outside Canada, are thereby prohibited from dealing in the property of, entering into transactions with, providing services to, transferring property to, or otherwise making goods available to listed persons. These measures also render listed individuals inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Permits and Certificates

Exemption permits or certificates may be issued in certain circumstances. The circumstances in which such applications can be made are set out in the respective regulations.

Background

Preventing terrorists from using the global financial system to further terrorist activity is essential for the suppression of international terrorism. A key element of the response of the international community has been to impose measures to prevent the concealment and transfer of funds or assets used to finance terrorism, and to designate individuals and other entities to whom these measures are to be applied by placing them on lists.

Canada has implemented its international obligations by establishing a process for the listing of terrorist entities in order to apply specified measures, such as the freezing of assets, to those who are listed. This process has taken the form of three distinct, yet complementary terrorist listing legislative frameworks: United Nations Act (UNA: the Regulations Implementing The United Nations Resolutions on the Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida and the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Suppression of Terrorism), Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA), and the Criminal Code. Together, these three mechanisms advance domestic security interests and support Canadian conformity with a range of international obligations, including those under the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.

United Nations Act (UNA)

Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida

The Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida (SOR/99-444) were made in 1999 under the United Nations Act, and originally entitled the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations. At the time, the regulations froze the assets of the Taliban, Usama bin Laden and his associates, and the members of the Al-Qaida organization, and prevented the supply, sale, and transfer of arms and technical assistance to them. The adoption of UNSCR 1988 (2011) and 1989 (2011) split the Consolidated List of the Security Council into the Al-Qaida Sanctions List (also referred to as the 1267/1989 List) and the Taliban Sanctions List (also referred to as the 1988 List). The Security Council Committee established and maintains a list of individuals and entities associated with ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999) (now the ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee). The Security Council Committee also established and maintains a list of individuals and entities associated with the Taliban pursuant to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1988 (2011) (the 1988 Sanctions Committee). These lists were incorporated into the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations by reference.

On May 9, 2013, the Government of Canada listed the Taliban as a terrorist entity under the Criminal Code, which contains prohibitions on various activities and transactions with respect to listed entities. To resolve the resulting duplication, the regulations were amended on September 26, 2014. Individuals and entities associated with the Taliban remain listed under the Criminal Code, reflecting the Taliban Sanctions list established by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1988 (2011). Likewise, ISIL (Da’esh), Al-Qaida and their regional affiliates are also listed under Canada’s Criminal Code: Al-Qaida on July 23, 2002; Islamic State on August 8, 2012; Islamic State – Sinai Province on April 7, 2015; Al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent on December 28, 2016; Islamic State – Khorasan Province on May 23, 2018 and; Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, November 21, 2018.

In line with the evolving face of modern terrorism, in 2014 the 1267 Committee’s focus shifted from principally Al-Qaida and the Taliban to broader issues of global terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters. In August 2014, UNSCR 2017 explicitly named ISIL (Da’esh) and other groups as sources of instability, terrorist acts, and the destruction of property and cultural and religious sites. In September 2014, UNSCR 2178 expanded the scope of activities of the Committee to reflect this change. UNSCR 2199 further imposed a ban on the sale of Iraqi and Syrian cultural property and proscribed general trade with ISIL, ANF (Al-Nusra Front) and other Al-Qaida-related individuals and entities.

On June 1, 2020, amendments were introduced into the United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations to expand their scope to ISIL (Da’esh) and its affiliates, and the name of the regulations was updated to the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Regulations on the Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida. These regulations, as amended, implement in Canadian domestic law the binding elements of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1267 (1999) and its successor resolutions.

On June 19, 2023, the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida were amended to allow the provision, processing or payment of funds, other financial assets or economic resources or the provision of goods and services that are necessary to ensure the timely delivery of urgently needed humanitarian assistance or to support other activities related to basic human needs, if provided by specified groups. These changes are the result of two United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs): 2615 (2021) and 2664(2022).

UNSCR 2615 (2021) acknowledges the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and decides that provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan do not constitute a violation of paragraph 1 (a) of resolution 2255 (2015), and permits the processing of payments of funds, other financial assets, economic resources, and provision of goods and services needed to support humanitarian aid delivery.

UNSCR 2664 (2022) created a carve-out for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and for other activities that support basic human needs in all current UN sanctions regimes that impose asset freezes. While this carve-out is indefinite for the majority of UN sanctions, the resolution explicitly indicates that the carve-out is only applicable for a two-year period for UN sanctions regime against ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, with a possibility of extension.

Suppression of Terrorism Regulations

The Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Suppression of Terrorism (SOR/2001-360), as amended (the Suppression of Terrorism Regulations) were made in 2001 under the United Nations Act. The Suppression of Terrorism Regulations create a Canadian list of terrorist individuals and entities with a broader scope than the Regulations Implementing the United Regulations on the Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, which are limited by geography and affiliation. The assets of those covered by the Suppression of Terrorism Regulations are frozen, and it is illegal to raise funds on the behalf of a listed entity.

The Suppression of Terrorism Regulations, as amended, implement in Canadian domestic law the binding elements of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001).

Special Economic Measures Regulations (SEMA)

SEMA allows Canada to impose sanctions in circumstances where a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred, or gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in relation to a foreign state.

Special Economic Measures (Hamas Terrorist Attacks) Regulations

On October 7, 2023, the Hamas terrorist organization launched a brutal attack from Gaza on several Israeli communities. The Government of Canada has put in place measures in response to the attacks and the ensuing conflict. The sanctions list individuals for their participation in activities that have facilitated, supported, provided funding for or contributed to the terrorist attacks by Hamas and its affiliates against Israel beginning on October 7, 2023. There is strong international consensus amongst Canada’s allies and partners on the importance of further reinforcing measures to isolate, delegitimize, and counter Hamas’ ability to operate, raise funds and carry out terrorist acts.

Criminal Code

The Criminal Code also provides a process to list and apply appropriate criminal measures to listed entities. For more information on the Criminal Code listing process and currently listed entities, please consult the Public Safety Canada website.

Selected documents

Regulations

United Nations Al-Qaida and Taliban Regulations:

Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Suppression of Terrorism:

Special Economic Measures (Hamas Terrorist Attacks) Regulations:

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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