Civil Unrest and Humanitarian Crisis in Haiti Pushes Canada to Enact New Sanctions Regulations Under the SEMA

December 14, 2022

Following an announcement in September 2022 by Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry to end fuel subsidies, armed gangs and their supporters began the escalation of civil unrest, which led to the intensification of the existing humanitarian crisis in Haiti. Canada has reported that armed gangs “continue to control major roads and strategic points and divert fuel to the black market”, which has blocked the transmission of critical services, resulting in a cholera outbreak across the country.

This has led Canada to enact new sanctions against Haiti under the Special Economic Measures Act. The new Special Economic Measures (Haiti) Regulations, which came into force on November 3, 2022, initially only imposed sanctions against two individuals in response to “the egregious conduct of political elites who provide illicit financial support to armed gangs”.

These sanctions are in addition to the sanctions adopted by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and implemented into Canadian law under the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on Haiti, which came into force on November 10, 2022. On October 21, 2022, the UNSC adopted resolution 2653. The Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 2653 (2022) concerning Haiti informs sanctions measures, which includes a travel ban, assets freeze, and targeted arms embargo, as well as a summary of the sanctions listing criteria.

On November 17, 2022, Canada expanded the list of individuals subject to economic sanctions to target what Canada considers to be “the political elite who use their position and influence to support criminal armed gangs spreading terror and violence in Haiti”.

Most recently, on December 5, 2022, Canada announced a new round of sanctions targeting three “high profile members of the economic elite in Haiti” who Canada believes “are using their status … to protect and enable the illegal activities of armed criminal gangs, including through money laundering and other acts of corruption”. These sanctions came into effect on December 2, 2022.

Designated persons listed in the Schedule of the Haiti Regulations are subject to a dealings prohibition, which prohibits any person in Canada or any Canadian outside Canada from “dealing” with designated persons. Prohibitions include, for example, dealing in property, wherever situated, that is owned, held or controlled by listed persons or a person acting on their behalf, or entering into or facilitating any transaction related to a prohibited dealing.

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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