Canada sanctions Burma’s former military chief over Rohingya crisis

Canada3.jpgThe Canadian Government has imposed targeted sanctions (asset freeze) against Burma’s former Major-General Maung Maung Soe, pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), by amending the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Regulations.

Maung Maung Soe was sanctioned for being “responsible for, or complicit in, gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights against the Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State” which “forced more than 688,000 Rohingya to flee their country”. Canadian press release here.

OFAC added Maung Maung Soe to its Global Magnitsky sanctions list on 21 December 2017 (see previous blog here).

20 countries consider tougher sanctions on N Korea

Vancouver.jpgYesterday, the US and Canada co-hosted the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula. Twenty nations (including the co-hosting nations, the UK, France, Japan, India and South Korea – full list here) pledged to the “full and effective implementation of existing [UN] sanctions on North Korea”. Furthermore, they collectively agreed “to consider and take steps to impose unilateral sanctions and further diplomatic actions that go beyond those required by UN Security Council resolutions”. Summary of meeting here. Remarks from the Foreign Ministers of the US, UK, Canada, Japan and South Korea here.

Despite being permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and Russia did not participate in the meeting.

Canada lists 52 foreign nationals under Magnitsky law

Canada3.jpgPursuant to the recently passed Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law) (see previous blog here), Canada has imposed targeted sanctions on 52 foreign nationals (including 30 Russians) by enacting the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Regulations. The Regulations were made in response to three different sets of circumstances, namely, “the case of Sergei Magnitsky, and incidents of corruption and gross human rights violations by officials linked to the Maduro regime and by officials in South Sudan”, see here.

The Regulations prohibit any person in Canada, or any Canadian outside of Canada, from dealing, directly or indirectly, with any of the listed foreign nationals.

In response to the measures, Russian authorities have imposed a ban on a number of Canadian public figures from entering Russia (without specifying who has been affected).

Canada passes sanctions law targeting foreign violators of human rights

Canada2.jpgThe Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), a Canadian bill which provides for restrictive measures to be taken against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognised human rights, has received Royal Assent.

Under the law, foreign nationals will be subject to restrictive measures if they are found to have been responsible for, or complicit in, “gross violations of internationally recognised human rights committed against individuals in any foreign country” who seek to “expose illegal activity carried out by government officials”, or to “obtain, exercise, defend or promote internationally recognised human rights and freedoms”. The law also targets foreign nationals involved in acts of “significant corruption”.

Similar laws were passed in the US (see previous blog here) and Estonia (see previous blog here). In the UK, the Criminal Finances Act 2017 was passed, however, the relevant sections dealing with ‘Magnitsky-style’ sanctions have yet to come into force.

Canada sanctions 40 Venezuelans

Canada, like the USA, has imposed sanctions on senior Venezuelan officials and supporters of the Venezuelan government (see previous blog). The listings target 40 people, including President Nicolas Maduro, members of his cabinet, and members of Venezuela’s Supreme Court.  Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland echoed the US description of Venezuela as a “dictatorship”, and said that it was “important to send a signal to the leaders of the Maduro regime that their actions are unacceptable”.

Canadian government endorses Magnitsky sanctions bill

The Canadian government has said that it supports a draft bill which, if passed through the Canadian legislature, would impose sanctions on human rights violators anywhere in the world.  The “Magnitsky-style” sanctions were recommended by a Canadian Parliamentary committee last month (see previous blog).  A Russian official responded to the Canadian government’s endorsement of the bill by saying that it would “not be left unanswered”.  The US, UK, and several other countries have already introduced Magnitsky sanctions on human rights violators in Russia and elsewhere.

Canada sanctions 27 top Syrian officials

Canada has sanctioned 27 of Syria’s top government officials, in an effort to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the violence against civilians in his country. The new sanctions, which follow a lethal chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria’s Idlib province earlier this month, impose an asset freeze on the 27 officials and prohibit people and entities from dealing with them. The Canadian government’s press release is here.

Canadian parliamentary committee recommends human rights sanctions

A parliamentary committee in Canada has recommended that the Canadian government follow the US, UK, and several other countries in imposing sanctions on people involved in gross human rights violations (see previous blog) as an amendment to the Special Economic Measures Act.  This report is part of the current review of that Act and the Freeing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (see previous blog). One example is the “Magnitsky” sanctions named after Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, whose death in Russian custody in 2009 prompted the US to introduce the first sanctions of this kind.  The US Congress recently approved expanding the scope of those measures to have effect worldwide.  A link to the Canadian House of Commons Report is here.