Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations: SOR/2021-154
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 155, Number 14
SOR/2021-154 June 17, 2021
SPECIAL ECONOMIC MEASURES ACT
P.C. 2021-610 June 17, 2021
Whereas the Administrator in Council is of the opinion that gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in Belarus;
Therefore, His Excellency the Administrator of the Government of Canada in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, pursuant to subsections 4(1) footnote a, (1.1) footnote b, (2) and (3) of the Special Economic Measures Act footnote c, makes the annexed Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations.
Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations
1 The schedule to the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations footnote 1 is amended by adding the following after the heading “Persons”:
2 The schedule to the Regulations is amended by adding the following after item 55:
- 56 Aleksey Oleksin
- 57 Aleksey Nikolayevich Avramenko
- 58 Leonid Nikolayevich Churo
- 59 Oleg Sergeyevich Gaidukevich
- 60 Igor Vladimirovich Golub
- 61 Andrey Nikolayevich Gurtsevich
- 62 Valeriy Valeryevich Ivankovich
- 63 Nikolay Nikolayevich Karpenkov
- 64 Viktor Gennadyevich Khrenin
- 65 Igor Vladimirovich Lutsky
- 66 Maxim Vladimirovich Ryzhenkov
- 67 Andrey Ivanovich Shved
- 68 Artem Igorevich Sikorsky
- 69 Nikolay Nikolayevich Vorobei
- 70 Aleksandr Vladimirovich Vasiliuk
- 71 Aleksandr Nikolayevich Zaitsev
- 72 Oleg Nikolayevich Belyakov
- 1 Belaeronavigatsia Republican Unitary Air Navigation Services Enterprise
- 2 Belarusski Avtomobilnyi Zavod BelAZ (Belarusian Automobile Plant)
- 3 Bremino Group
- 4 Novaya Neftenaya Kompaniya (New Oil Company)
- 5 Minski Avtomobilnyi Zavod MAZ (Minsk Automobile Plant)
Application Before Publication
3 For the purpose of paragraph 11(2)(a) of the Statutory Instruments Act, these Regulations apply according to their terms before they are published in the Canada Gazette.
Coming into Force
4 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.
REGULATORY IMPACT ANALYSIS STATEMENT
(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)
In August 2020, following a fraudulent presidential election marred by significant irregularities, ensuing public protests in Belarus against the national government were brutally suppressed by government security forces resulting in gross and systematic human rights violations. Since then, the Belarusian authorities have continued to employ aggressive rhetoric towards the opposition, refused to engage in dialogue, and rejected calls for the holding of new presidential elections. Human rights violations continue and there has been no accountability for past or current violations. In recent months, actions targeting opposition voices and the media have become more brazen. On May 23, the Government of Belarus orchestrated the forced diversion of a civilian aircraft, Ryanair flight FR4978, flying from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania. The flight was ordered to land in Minsk under the pretext of a bomb threat. Upon landing, Belarusian journalist, Roman Protasevich, and his companion, Russian national Sofia Sapega, were arrested. Canada and its like-minded international partners have repeatedly condemned the actions of the Belarusian authorities and their treatment of opposition voices.
On August 9, 2020, the Republic of Belarus held presidential elections marred by widespread irregularities. Under the direction of 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, and used state-sponsored violence against the people of Belarus in an effort to suppress anti-government protests. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Office of the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Viasna Human Rights Centre, along with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, all reported numerous human rights violations.
The Government of Belarus has continued to commit gross and systematic human rights violations. These include prolonged arbitrary detentions, brutality, intimidation, and the excessive use of force against peaceful protesters. Arbitrary arrests continue. In addition, there are undue restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and freedom of association. Human rights observers identified an escalation in the scale of repression against independent journalists in late 2020/early 2021, including arbitrary detention, the imposition of fines and prison sentences, loss of media credentials and police raids. A number of legislative measures have been taken to restrict civil rights, including labelling a broad range of activities as “extremist,” and removing accountability measures for security forces using violent means to silence protesters. There have been more than 35 000 detained since August 2020, and more than 377 political prisoners as of late May 2021.
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. A subsequent public appearance by Mr. Protasevich, during which he “confessed” to “organizing mass disorder” has led observers to believe he is being ill-treated in detention, and that his statements may have been coerced.
There is no indication that the Government of Belarus is genuinely committed to finding a negotiated solution with opposition groups, or 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.
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. 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, in coordination with the European Union, announced further sanctions against an additional 31 Belarusian officials via the Regulations. On November 6, additional sanctions were announced against another 13 Belarusian officials also in alignment with the European Union. To date, Canada has sanctioned 55 Belarusian officials under the Special Economic Measures Act.
The Regulations prohibit persons (individuals and entities) in Canada and Canadians outside Canada from conducting the following activities with listed individuals:
- (a) deal in any property, wherever situated, that is owned, held or controlled by a listed person or by a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
- (b) enter into or facilitate any transaction related to a dealing referred to in paragraph (a);
- (c) provide any financial or related services in respect of a dealing referred to in paragraph (a);
- (d) make available any goods, wherever situated, to a listed person or to a person acting on behalf of a listed person; or
- (e) provide any financial or related services to or for the benefit of a listed person.
Consequential to being listed in the Regulations, and pursuant to the application of paragraph 35(1)(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the listed individuals are inadmissible to Canada.
The Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Permit Authorization Order (the Order) was also made to authorize the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue to any individual or entity 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.
- To put pressure on the Government of Belarus to change its behaviour;
- To communicate a clear message to the Government of Belarus that Canada will not accept that gross and systematic human rights violations continue to take place at the hands of the State with impunity; and
- To align with actions taken by our like-minded partners.
The Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations (the amendments) add 17 individuals and 5 entities to the schedule of the Regulations.
Global Affairs Canada engages regularly with relevant stakeholders including civil society organizations and cultural communities and other like-minded governments regarding Canada's approach to sanctions implementation.
With respect to the amendments, public consultation would not have been appropriate, as publicizing the names of the listed persons targeted by sanctions would have likely resulted in asset flight prior to the coming into force of the amendments.
Modern treaty obligations and Indigenous engagement and consultation
An initial assessment of the geographical scope of the initiative was conducted and did not identify any modern treaty obligations, as the amendments do not take effect in a modern treaty area.
Regulations are the sole method to enact sanctions in Canada. No other instrument could be considered.
Benefits and costs
Application of sanctions will serve to put pressure on the Government of Belarus to change its behaviour. The sanctions communicate a clear message that Canada will not accept that gross and systematic human rights violations continue to take place in Belarus at the hands of the State with impunity. As efforts to date have not convinced the Government of Belarus to accept accountability for human rights violations or to fully implement agreements stemming from the negotiation process with opposition groups, sanctions send an important message from Canada and encourage progress with the negotiations.
Canadian banks and financial institutions are required to comply with the sanctions. They will do so by adding the new prohibitions to their existing monitoring systems, which may result in a minor compliance cost.
The amendments will create additional compliance costs for businesses seeking permits that would authorize them to carry out specified activities or transactions that are otherwise prohibited. However, costs will likely be low, as it is unlikely that Canadian businesses have dealings with the newly listed persons.
Small business lens
As it is unlikely that Canadian businesses have dealings with the newly listed persons, no significant loss of opportunities for small businesses is expected as a result of the amendments.
To facilitate compliance by small businesses, Global Affairs Canada is in the process of conducting enhanced outreach with stakeholders to better inform them of changes to the Regulations. This includes updates to the sanctions website as well as the creation of the sanctions hotline. In addition, the Trade Commissioner Service is engaged in implementing Canada's Trade Diversification Strategy, which will support Canadian companies seeking to find alternative export markets.
The one-for-one rule does not apply to the amendments, as they do not impose an incremental administrative burden on businesses.
Regulatory cooperation and alignment
While the amendments are not related to a work plan or commitment under a formal regulatory cooperation forum, they align with actions taken by like-minded partners.
Strategic environmental assessment
The amendments are unlikely to result in important environmental effects. In accordance with the Cabinet Directive on the Environmental Assessment of Policy, Plan and Program Proposals, a preliminary scan concluded that a strategic environmental assessment is not required.
Gender-based analysis plus (GBA+)
The focus of the amendments is on specific individuals who are members of the Government of Belarus and/or persons engaged in activities that contribute to human rights violations in Belarus, rather than on Belarus as a whole. This results in minimizing collateral effects to people dependent on those individuals.
Exceptions are included in the Regulations, including, among others, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to provide some mitigation of the impact of sanctions on vulnerable groups. The Minister of Foreign Affairs can also issue permits pursuant to the Order. As such, these new sanctions are likely to have limited impact on the citizens of Belarus.
Implementation, compliance and enforcement, and service standards
Canada's sanctions regulations are enforced by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canada Border Services Agency. In accordance with section 8 of the Special Economic Measures Act, every person who willfully contravenes the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations is liable upon summary conviction to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or to both, or upon conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term or not more than five years.
Eastern Europe and Eurasia Relations Division