Canada Targets High-Profile Haitian Elites in Additional Rounds of Sanctions

January 18, 2023

On January 13, 2023, Canada announced new sanctions under the Special Economic Measures (Haiti) Regulations (the “Haiti Regulations”) against two individuals “in response to acts of significant corruption that are fueling the crisis in the country”. According to the announcement, “Canada has reason to believe these individuals are using their status as high-profile elites in Haiti to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs, including through drug trafficking and other acts of corruption”.

This is the fifth round of sanctions against Haiti under the Special Economic Measures Act since the Haiti Regulations entered into force on November 3, 2022 in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Haiti.

On December 20, 2022, Canada announced additional sanctions under the Haiti Regulations targeting two former ministers, which Canada labels as “high-profile elites in Haiti”. The imposition of these sanctions is intended to “put pressure on those responsible for the ongoing violence, including widespread sexual violence, and instability in Haiti”, and for these individuals to “stop providing funds and weapons to criminal gangs in Haiti”.

Canada’s methodology for selecting individuals to be added to the sanctions list on the basis of their alleged involvement in the financing and operational support of armed gangs has recently been challenged by Laurent Lamothe, the former Prime Minister of Haiti. On December 22, 2022, an application for judicial review was filed by Mr. Lamothe before the Federal Court. Mr. Lamothe is challenging his listing under the Haiti Regulations on the grounds that the allegations against him are without any basis, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has failed to provide the grounds supporting his listing, and that the decision to include him on the designated persons list was in breach of procedural fairness requirements. Our team will continue to monitor these proceedings closely, providing updates to keep clients informed about important developments impacting Canada’s sanction regime.

We have significant experience in the design and implementation of sanctions-related compliance programs and internal investigations. Where breaches are identified, we work closely with clients in making voluntary disclosures and in engaging with the ensuing investigations conducted by the RCMP and Global Affairs Canada. We also regularly assist clients with the application for delisting process as well as applications for exemption permits.


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