Canadian Sanctions Related to Venezuela
- 2019-03-04 - Regulations were amended
- 2018-05-30 - Regulations were amended
- 2017-09-22 - Regulations entered into force
Sanctions related to Venezuela have been enacted under the Special Economic Measures Act in order to implement the decision of the Association formed between Canada and the United States of America on September 5, 2017. The Association called on its members to take economic measures against Venezuela and persons responsible for the current situation in Venezuela.
The Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations impose an asset freeze and dealings prohibition 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 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 Venezuela.
Permits and Certificates
A separate Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) 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.
On September 5, 2017, an Association between Canada and the United States was formed. The Association called on its members to take economic measures against Venezuela and persons responsible for the current situation in Venezuela. To implement this decision, on September 22, 2017, Canada announced that targeted sanctions would be imposed against Venezuela, Venezuelan officials and other individuals under the Special Economic Measures Act.
After democratic elections held in December 2015 saw a coalition of opposition parties win a majority in the National Assembly, the Venezuelan government proceeded to systematically strip the powers of the National Assembly. In January 2016, President Nicolas Maduro declared a state of emergency and has since been ruling by decree. In May 2017 he announced the creation of a National Constituent Assembly (or ANC), which was formed on August 4, 2017 and immediately moved to assume core functions of the opposition-led National Assembly. The ANC has the power to supersede any institution in Venezuela, to rule by decree and to unilaterally rewrite the Constitution. Members of the ANC were elected on July 30, 2017 following an election process which was boycotted by the opposition, was fraught with gerrymandering and allegations of vote rigging. Countries from around the globe, including Canada, refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the National Constituent Assembly or any of its decisions.
In April 2017, in reaction to the government’s undermining of democratic institutions, Venezuelan citizens took to the streets in almost daily protests over several months. The government crackdown against these demonstrators resulted in a high number of civilian deaths and injuries, as well as thousands of arrests. The repressive acts of the Venezuelan government are widely criticized, including by Venezuela’s former Attorney General, Luisa Ortega, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who issued a report on August 30, 2017 citing grave concerns with the “systematic use of excessive force" by government security forces.
The number of political prisoners continues to rise. There are significant concerns regarding the denial of fair trial rights and the use of military courts to try civilians. In 2017, there has also been a marked increase in the suppression of freedom of expression, including the recent closures of media outlets like radio and television stations. Various foreign television channels and webpages have also been blocked by the government. The President of the National Constituent Assembly has also publicly confirmed her intention to censor social media.
As a result of the government’s systematic erosion of Venezuela’s democratic institutions and its grave human rights abuses, and in response to the Association between Canada and the United States that was formed on September 5, 2017, which called on its members to take economic measures against Venezuela and persons responsible for the current situation in Venezuela, the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations came into force.
On May 30, 2018, the Regulations were amended to add fourteen (14) additional individuals. These additions were made in response to the further erosion of democratic institutions in Venezuela and the consolidation of President Maduro’s power through illegitimate elections. On May 20, 2018, the Venezuelan government held presidential, regional and local council elections that did not meet international standards to be considered either free or fair. As such, the electoral process and results were rejected by Canada and many likeminded partners as they lacked transparency, legitimacy and credibility.
Regulations and Orders made under the Special Economic Measures Act:
- 2019-03-04 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending Certain Regulations Made Under the Special Economic Measures Act (SOR/2019-61) (unofficial version)
- Justice Canada consolidation of the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations
- 2018-05-30 (Entered into force) - Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations (SOR/2018-114)
- 2017-09-22 (Entered into force) - Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Regulations (SOR/2017-204)
- 2017-09-22 (Entered into force) - Special Economic Measures (Venezuela) Permit Authorization Order (SOR/2017-205)
Announcements related to the Regulations made under the Special Economic Measures Act:
- 2018-05-30 - News release - Canada imposes further sanctions on Maduro regime in Venezuela
- 2018-05-30 - Backgrounder - Venezuela sanctions
- 2017-09-22 - News Release - Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada announcing sanctions
- 2017-09-22 - Backgrounder - Sanctions List
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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