Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations: SOR/2021-236
Canada Gazette, Part II, Volume 155, Number 26
SOR/2021-236 December 2, 2021
SPECIAL ECONOMIC MEASURES ACT
P.C. 2021-993 December 1, 2021
Whereas the Governor in Council is of the opinion that gross and systematic human rights violations have been committed in Belarus;
Therefore, Her Excellency the Governor General 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 (1) Subsection 4(1) of the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations footnote 1 is renumbered as section 4.
(2) Paragraph 4(a) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (a) any payment made by or on behalf of a listed person that is due under a contract that the listed person entered into before they became a listed person, provided that the payment is not made to a listed person or to a person acting on behalf of a listed person;
(3) Paragraph 4(d) of the Regulations is replaced by the following:
- (d) any 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 that listed person before they became a listed person, and for enforcement and realization of security in respect of those loans, or payments by guarantors guaranteeing those loans;
2 Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations is amended by adding the following after item 72:
- 73 Sergei Yepikhov
- 74 Natalia Mikhailovna Buguk
- 75 Alina Sergeevna Kasyanchyk
- 76 Maksim Leonidovich Trusevich
- 77 Dmitriy Karsyuk
- 78 Andrei Parshyn
- 79 Anatol Lapo
- 80 Ihar Butkevich
- 81 Raman Podlineu
- 82 Ihar Pechan
- 83 Siarhei Novikau
- 84 Konstantin Molostov
- 85 Igor Gutnik
- 86 Dmitry Lukashenko
- 87 Dmitriy Korzyuk
- 88 Oleg Larin
- 89 Denis Chemodanov
- 90 Mikhail Bedunkevich
- 91 Vasiliy Sysoyev
- 92 Dmitriy Kovach
- 93 Aleksandr Zhivlyuk
- 94 Andrei Makarevich
- 95 Vladimir Vashkevich
- 96 Aleksandr Alyoksa
3 Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Regulations is amended by adding the following after item 5:
- 6 Tsentrkurort
- 7 Presidential Sports Club
- 8 Gardservis
- 9 BelTechExport
- 10 Peleng JSC
- 11 140 Repair Plant
- 12 AGAT Electromechanical Plant
Application Before Publication
4 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
5 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, 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, Belarusian authorities have continued to employ aggressive rhetoric towards the opposition, refused to engage in dialogue, and rejected calls for new presidential elections. Human rights violations continue and there has been no accountability for past or current violations. 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 incumbent 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, 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, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, all reported numerous human rights violations. Since then, numerous reputable human rights organizations, including Viasna Human Rights Centre, has been forced to close.
The Government of Belarus has continued to commit gross and systematic human rights violations since the 2020 presidential election. These include prolonged arbitrary detentions, brutality, intimidation, and the excessive use of force against peaceful protestors. 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 2021, including arbitrary detention, the imposition of fines and prison sentences, loss of media credentials and police raids. On May 23, 2021, 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 proved to be unsubstantiated. Upon landing in Minsk, two passengers, Belarusian journalist and activist Roman Protasevich and his Russian companion, Sofia Sapega, were removed from the flight. They remain under house arrest as of October 2021, awaiting trial.
Since the last round of sanctions (August 2021), the situation has continued to deteriorate. On September 6, 2021, leading opposition figure Marrya Kolesnikova was sentenced to 11 years in prison for conspiracy to seize power and threatening national security, after a year in detention following her abduction in central Minsk and attempted forced expulsion from the country. At the end of September 2021, the Belarusian Justice Ministry filed a lawsuit to dissolve the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, one of the country’s oldest independent human rights groups. The situation on the border with European Union (EU) states has also worsened, with Poland joining Lithuania and Latvia’s earlier action by declaring state of emergency on September 7, 2021. Finally, concerns with Lukashenko’s strong hold on its citizens remain. Following the September ZAPAD military exercise (September 10 to 16), Russia left up to 10% of the military equipment behind, for use by Belarus. The EU has recently imposed additional sanctions, and the United States and the United Kingdom are in preparations to do so shortly. Coordinating with these like-minded countries will strengthen the effect of Canada’s sanctions. 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.
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, the Media Freedom Coalition and the 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, 2020, additional sanctions were announced against another 13 Belarusian officials also in alignment with the European Union. On June 21, 2021, in coordination with the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union, Canada announced sanctions against 17 individuals and 5 entities under the Regulations. On August 9, 2021, Canada announced further sanctions imposing restrictions on certain activities relating to transferable securities and money market instruments, debt financing, insurance and reinsurance, petroleum products, and potassium chloride products. To date, Canada has sanctioned 72 individuals and 5 entities in relation to events in Belarus.
The Regulations prohibit persons (individuals and entities) in Canada and Canadians outside of 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 to 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; and
- (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 increase pressure on the Government of Belarus through the imposition of broad economic sanctions 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.
- To align with actions taken by our like-minded partners.
The Regulations Amending the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations (the amendments) add 24 individuals and 7 entities to the Schedule to the Regulations. Persons in Canada and Canadians abroad will be prohibited from dealing with persons listed in the Schedule. These individuals, who are not Canadian citizens, would be rendered inadmissible to Canada pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
Global Affairs Canada engages regularly with relevant stakeholders, including civil society organizations, cultural communities and other like-minded governments, regarding Canada’s approach to sanctions implementation.
With respect to the amendments, public consultations would not have been appropriate, as publicizing the new prohibitions would have disclosed confidential communication with foreign states and could reasonably have been expected to be injurious to the conduct of international affairs.
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 economic sanctions will serve to increase pressure on the Government of Belarus to change its behaviour. These new 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 nor to fully implement agreements stemming from the negotiation process with opposition groups, sanctions that aim to have a broad impact send an important message from Canada.
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 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 Canadian businesses have limited dealings in these sectors.
Small business lens
As it is unlikely that Canadian businesses have dealings in these sectors, 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+)
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