On December 8, 2023, Canada announced new sanctions against seven individuals under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Regulations (the “JVCFOA”), Canada’s Magnitsky Law. The sanctions came into effect immediately and target four Chechen officials, two Iranian officials and the Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar armed forces, all of which are alleged to have “played a role in long-standing human rights violations in their countries”.
Canada has identified the Chechen government officials as being responsible for human rights violations against the LGBTQI+ community. Canada has identified the Iranian government officials as being involved in the death of Iranian-Canadian photo-journalist Zahra Kazemi. The Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar armed forces, Min Aung Hlaing, was the leader of the 2021 military coup d’état which deposed Myanmar’s democratically elected civilian government.
This is only the fifth round of sanctions issued under the JVCFOA since its coming into force in 2017. These designations follow the designation of Lebanese nationals in August 2023 and the Prime Minister’s December 2021 Mandate Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs requesting that she continue to support and implement the JVCFOA. Prior to these recent designations, Canada last designated individuals under the JVCFOA in November 2018.
The JVCFOAauthorizesthe Government of Canada to impose unilateral sanctions against foreign nationals responsible for gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. “Foreign national” is defined broadly to mean an individual who is not (a) a Canadian citizen; or (b) a permanent resident under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
The Regulations, by reference to the JVCFOA, prohibit, with respect to listed foreign nationals, the following:
(a) the dealing, directly or indirectly, by any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada in any property, wherever situated, of the foreign national;
(b) the entering into or facilitating, directly or indirectly, by any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada, of any financial transaction related to a dealing referred to in paragraph (a);
(c) the provision by any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada of financial services or any other services to, for the benefit of or on the direction or order of the foreign national;
(d) the acquisition by any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada of financial services or any other services for the benefit of or on the direction or order of the foreign national; and
(e) the making available by any person in Canada or Canadian outside Canada of any property, wherever situated, to the foreign national or to a person acting on behalf of the foreign national.
To learn more about the JVCFOA, read our previous blog post here.