Canada imposes additional sanctions on Belarus officials over ongoing human rights violations News
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Canada imposes additional sanctions on Belarus officials over ongoing human rights violations

Canada announced on Monday that it would impose additional sanctions on 21 Belarus officials under the Special Economic Measures (Belarus) Regulations. These sanctions come in response to the ongoing human rights violations occurring in Belarus since the 2020 presidential election.

According to Global Affairs Canada’s statement, the sanctions serve as a response to the systematic violations perpetrated by the Lukashenko regime, including the prosecution of Belarusian citizens who protested against the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The sanctions primarily target current and former high-ranking government officials, including members of the security forces, public prosecutors, judiciary members and administrators of penal and educational institutions. These individuals have been implicated in suppressing the right of Belarusians to engage in peaceful protests. Canada alleges their involvement or complicity in arbitrary arrests, detentions, brutality, intimidation and the excessive use of force against protesters who contested the fraudulent elections. Furthermore, the accused officials have been allegedly associated with the ill-treatment of individuals who were falsely tried, sentenced and imprisoned following the protests.

Canada implemented the sanctions pursuant to the Special Economic Measures Act, which grants the government the authority to implement economic measures against specific individuals when gross and systematic human rights violations have transpired in a foreign state.

Under the Special Economic Measures Regulations, Canada imposed a prohibition on dealings (effectively an asset freeze). This prohibition restricts individuals in Canada and Canadians abroad from engaging in any activity related to the property of the listed persons, as well as providing financial or related services to them. Additionally, the listed individuals are deemed inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Canada announced the sanctions before Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya visited Ottawa on Tuesday. The Belarusian government tried Tsikhanouskaya, an advocate for democracy, in absentia in 2023 and sentenced her to fifteen years.

During Tsikhanouskaya’s meeting with Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, they agreed to conduct bilateral consultations on human rights, democracy and strategies to ensure accountability for the Lukashenko regime and put an end to the ongoing human rights violations in Belarus since the 2020 presidential election.

In March, the UN Human Rights Council published a report on the human rights situation in Belarus during and after the country’s 2020 presidential election. The report presents evidence concerning a wide range of issues, such as arbitrary denial of the right to life, enforced disappearances, torture, and discrimination based on political opinions.