On 2 December 2021, Canada levied a new round of economic sanctions against Belarus. Canada and its allies have implemented several rounds of increasingly restrictive economic sanctions against Belarus since August 2020. Canada first sanctioned Belarus in August 2020 as a result of the Presidential election of that month, which was widely regarded as unfree, unfair, and illegitimate.
This contentious election resulted in the sixth presidential term of Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus since 1994. Canada and its allies’ sanctions have sought to increase the cost to Belarus and President Lukashenko of continuing to flout international human rights norms, including the right to democratic participation. Tereposky & DeRose have previously written about these past sanctions.
Since Canada and its allies first sanctioned Belarus in 2020, the relationship between Belarus and the west have continued to worsen. This has culminated in the current situation where Belarus is allegedly encouraging migrants from the Middle East and Africa to travel to and migrate into Europe, using Belarus as a transit point.
These efforts by Belarus to manufacture a migrant crisis on the EU’s borders is what Canada’s most recent sanctions are a response to. Canada took this most recent measure, along with its prior measures against Belarus, in coordination with its allies including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Together, this group of states hopes to accomplish together more than they could individually.
Canada’s specific economic measures consisted of sanctioning twenty-four (24) individuals and seven (7) entities, under the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations (“Regulations”). The Regulations prohibit persons in Canada as well as Canadians abroad from engaging in any activity relating to any property owned by the individuals or entities. Additionally, neither persons in Canada nor Canadians outside of Canada may provide financial or related services to listed persons. Finally, the individuals listed are prohibited from entering Canada pursuant to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Canada sanctioned individuals because of their responsibility for the ongoing gross and systemic human rights violations being committed in Belarus. The corporate entities sanctioned are also involved in either directly supporting the Belarussian government’s human rights abuses or are indirectly benefiting from it.
For example, Canada sanctioned Tsentrkurort, Belarus’ state-owned tourism country, which played a key role in orchestrating irregular migration from the Middle East and Africa to Europe. Canada also sanctioned the Presidential Sports Club, a state-run sports organization headed by the President’s son, Dmitry Lukashenko. The remaining five (5) corporate entities are all involved in the arms manufacturing or defence industries.
These restrictions do not mean that Canadians cannot do business in Belarus, but the ever-changing legal environment of these and other sanctions may present challenges to investment and trade opportunities.
The lawyers at Tereposky & DeRose are available to assist with any and all questions you may have regarding the sanctions and their practical effects.