On February 20, 2024, Canada enacted new sanctions regulations under the Special Economic Measures Act in response to gross and systematic human rights violations and corruption in Guatemala. The Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Regulations (the “Regulations”) designate four individuals and entered into force on February 16, 2024.

The individuals listed in the Schedule to the Regulations are public officials that are alleged to have committed gross human rights violations, engaged in activities that directly or indirectly promote corruption, undermined democracy and prevented a peaceful transition of power during and after the administration of former President Alejandro Giammattei (2020-2024). The individuals include the Attorney General and Head of the Public Ministry, the Special Prosecutor Against Impunity Within the Public Ministry, a judge and a prosecutor.

These new regulations are coordinated with sanctions imposed by Canada’s international trading partners, including the European Union and United States. By imposing these restrictive measures, Canada, the United States and the European Union have stated that their intention is to deter corrupt public officials from obstructing the mandate of democratically-elected President Bernardo Arévalo, condemn and support efforts to fight corruption and gross human rights violations, and strengthen security, human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Guatemala.

The Regulations impose a dealings prohibition against the individuals listed, effectively freezing any assets they hold in Canada. Specifically, the Regulations prohibit any person in Canada and any Canadian outside Canada from:

(a) dealing in any property, wherever situated, that is owned — or that is held or controlled, directly or indirectly — by a designated person;

(b) entering into or facilitating any transaction related to a dealing in a designated person’s property;

(c) providing any financial or related services in respect of a dealing in a designated person’s property;

(d) making available any goods, wherever situated, to a listed person or to a person acting on behalf of a designated person;

(e) transferring or providing any property other than goods to a listed person or to a person outside Canada who is not Canadian for the benefit of a designated person; or

(f) providing any financial or related services to or for the benefit of a designated person.

Individuals listed are also rendered inadmissible to Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

An unofficial copy of the Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Regulations, which came into effect on February 16, 2024 is available on Global Affairs Canada’s website here. An unofficial copy of the Special Economic Measures (Guatemala) Permit Authorization Order, which authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue permits to carry out an otherwise prohibited activity under the new Regulations, is available on the Global Affairs Canada website here.


Julia Webster is a disputes and international trade lawyer. She advises companies on trade remedies, free trade agreements, blocking measures, customs compliance, anti-corruption laws, economic sanctions, AML compliance, supply chain ethics, and cross-border M&A.