On February 6, 2024, Canada announced that 11 individuals affiliated with Hamas are sanctioned under the newly enacted Special Economic Measures (Hamas Terrorist Attacks) Regulations (the “Regulations”) in response to the attacks by Hamas in Israel beginning October 7, 2023 and the threat that Hamas and its affiliates pose to Israel and regional security. The sanctions entered into force on February 2, 2024 and are effective immediately. This is the first time Canada has enacted regulations under the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”)that are entity-specific and not enacted in relation to a country or territory.
These Regulations form part of Canada’s implemented measures to supress international terrorism. Other regulatory measures include the Regulations Implementing the United Nations Resolutions on the Taliban, ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida, as well as the Suppression of Terrorism Regulations enacted under the United Nations Act. Canada’s Criminal Code also provides authority for the Government to list terrorist entities, which are subject to criminal prohibitions.
The 11 sanctioned individuals are military leaders, commanders and members of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Canada stated these new sanctions are part of its actions to limit Hamas’ ability to raise and use funds to carry out further attacks against Israel and supports similar actions taken by Canada’s international partners.
Canada’s authority to designate persons under the new Regulations includes having reasonable grounds to believe that a person engaged in activities that directly or indirectly facilitate, support, provide funding for or contribute to an attack or attempted attack by Hamas against the State of Israel or persons in the State of Israel; participation in or facilitation of gross and systematic human rights violations in relation to an attack or attempted attack; associates of persons engaging in these activities; family members of associates or of persons engaging in these activities; or entities owned, held or controlled by any of the aforementioned persons.
The Regulations impose a dealings prohibition against the individuals listed, effectively freezing any assets they hold in Canada. More 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.
Canada also enacted the Special Economic Measures (Hamas Terrorist Attacks) Permit Authorization Form, which authorizes the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue permits to carry out an otherwise prohibited activity under the new Regulations.
Note that Hamas has been listed as a terrorist entity under Canada’s Criminal Code since November 27, 2002 and was already subject to similar prohibitions as those outlined in the Regulations. Specifically, the Criminal Code prohibits persons in Canada and Canadians outside of Canada from knowingly:
(a) dealing directly or indirectly with property owned or controlled by or on behalf of the terrorist group (Terrorist Property);
(b) entering into or facilitating, directly or indirectly, any transaction in respect of Terrorist Property; or
(c) providing any financial or other related services in respect of Terrorist Property.
Terrorist Property may also be subject to seizure, restraint, or forfeiture.
An unofficial copy of the legislative amendments to the Special Economic Measures (Hamas Terrorist Attacks) Regulations that came into effect on February 2, 2024 is available on Global Affairs Canada’s website here.