Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations: SOR/2021-175

Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 155, Number 15

SOR/2021-175 July 14, 2021


P.C. 2021-726 July 13, 2021

Whereas, the Administrator in Council is of the opinion that gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in Nicaragua;

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 (Nicaragua) Regulations.

Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations


1 The schedule to the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations footnote 1 is amended by adding the following after item 9:

Application Before Publication

2 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

3 These Regulations come into force on the day on which they are registered.


(This statement is not part of the Regulations.)


The situation in Nicaragua has not improved since the Government of Nicaragua violently repressed social protests over a period of several months beginning in April 2018. Since Canada enacted sanctions against 9 Nicaraguan officials under the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations in June 2019, human rights abuses have continued while security forces and pro-government armed groups have targeted political opponents, demonstrators, journalists and civil society.

The Government of Nicaragua has continued to harass political opponents and crackdown on all forms of dissent. It has consolidated its grip on all aspects of the electoral process in the lead-up to the November 2021 elections. The Government of Nicaragua has made no progress on human rights concerns or electoral reform. Instead, it has systematically worked to further rig the electoral process in its favour, thereby eliminating any possibility that the upcoming November elections will be free or fair. In June 2021, the Government of Nicaragua escalated its efforts to secure victory in November, using a recently enacted law against “plotting against the sovereignty” of the State to arbitrarily arrest more than a dozen leading opposition figures and potential presidential candidates.


In April 2018, massive anti-government protests broke out countrywide in Nicaragua. Police, in coordination with armed pro-government groups, brutally repressed protesters, which left a death toll of 328 people and almost 2 000 people injured. Hundreds of protesters were arbitrarily arrested and detained, many for months. Many were subjected to torture and ill-treatment including electric shocks, severe beatings, fingernail removal, asphyxiation, and rape. Serious violations of due process and other rights marred prosecutions. Authorities have failed to investigate and establish responsibility for gross human rights violations that have occurred in the context of the protests.

On June 21, 2019, in coordination with the United States, Canada announced sanctions against key officials in the Government of Nicaragua under the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations (the Regulations) in response to gross and systematic human rights violations that had been committed in Nicaragua. The European Union, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have all since enacted their own sanctions against Nicaragua in response to the situation.

In October 2020, the Organisation of American States General Assembly passed a resolution calling on Nicaragua to work with the Organisation and opposition groups and engage in substantial electoral reform by May 31, 2021. The Government of Nicaragua made no attempt to cooperate with the Organisation of American States.

Police abuses continued in 2020 and 2021. There are ongoing reports of police attacking and detaining demonstrators requesting the release of political prisoners. Police and unidentified assailants have also intimidated and attacked journalists. Human rights defenders and other critics are targets of death threats, intimidation, online defamation campaigns, harassment, surveillance, and assault. Some human rights defenders have suffered arbitrary prosecutions marred with due process violations. The Government of Nicaragua continues to employ unnecessary and disproportionate surveillance, harassment and selective attacks, and threats against human rights defenders and anyone identified with the opposition, according to the Inter American Commission on Human Rights.

The Government of Nicaragua has arbitrarily detained 20 prominent opposition figures since early June 2021, including several potential presidential candidates, charging them on trumped-up allegations of money-laundering and coup-mongering. The detained presidential candidates are also banned from running for office. More than a dozen other individuals linked to a think tank critical of the government have been prevented from leaving the country. Many other civil society members and journalists are also operating under repressive surveillance and threats from Government of Nicaragua security authorities.

The Regulations prohibit persons (individuals and entities) in Canada and Canadians outside Canada from conducting the following activities with listed individuals:

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 (Nicaragua) Permit Authorization 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.



The Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations (the amendments) add 15 individuals to the schedule of the Regulations.

Regulatory development


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 this specific proposal, public consultation, including prepublication, 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.

Instrument choice

Regulations are the sole method to enact sanctions in Canada. No other instrument could be considered.

Regulatory analysis

Benefits and costs

Application of additional sanctions will serve to apply increased pressure on the Government of the Republic of Nicaragua to respect its constitutional and international human rights obligations by changing its behaviour. The sanctions communicate a clear message that Canada stands with the international community and its allies in condemning the gross and systematic human rights violations which continue to take place in Nicaragua at the hands of the State, with impunity.

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 individuals.

Small business lens

As it is unlikely that Canadian businesses have dealings with the newly listed individuals, 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 conducts enhanced outreach with stakeholders to better inform them of changes to the Canada's sanctions. 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.

One-for-one rule

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. For example, the United States implemented additional sanctions since June 2019, with the latest round on June 9, 2021.

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 Nicaragua and/or individuals engaged in activities that contribute to human rights violations in Nicaragua, rather than on Nicaragua as a whole. This results in minimizing collateral effects to those 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 Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Permit Authorization Order. As such, these new sanctions are likely to have limited impact on the citizens of Nicaragua.


Canada has taken a multipronged response to the political and human rights crisis in Nicaragua, including efforts at bilateral engagement with the government, working through multilateral fora to maintain pressure and attention on the crisis, providing support to development initiatives to create a positive environment for change in the country and coordinated sanctions measures. The Government of Nicaragua has so far demonstrated that targeted sanctions are the only thing that may impact its policies.

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 (Nicaragua) 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 of not more than five years.


Sébastien Sigouin
Central America, Cuba and Dominican Republic
Global Affairs Canada
Telephone: 343‑548‑7620