On June 8, 2016, Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development announced that it would be undertaking a review of the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing of Assets of Corrupt Foreign Public Officials Act. The announcement did not receive much press at the time. The announcement states:
“Committee to conduct comprehensive review of the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.
Ottawa, June 08, 2016 –
In fall 2016, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development will conduct the required statutory parliamentary review of the Special Economic Measures Act and the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.
This study will be the first parliamentary review of the Special Economic Measures Act since it was enacted in 1992.
In cases where the United Nations Security Council has not taken action, the Special Economic Measures Act allows Canada to impose sanctions against a foreign state in response to a decision by an international organization of which Canada is a member, or where a grave breach of international peace and security has occurred, and has resulted in a serious international crisis.
When a country is experiencing internal turmoil or an uncertain political situation, the Freezing Assets of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act allows Canada to address the misappropriation or inappropriate acquisition of property by a state’s government officials or former officials.
As part of its review, the Committee will consider whether any legislative changes to the Special Economic Measures Act may be needed to address gross violations of internationally recognized human rights. In that regard, the study will incorporate the testimony the Committee received on 10 March 2016 from William Browder, Vladimir Kara-Murza, and Zhanna Nemtsova.
Organizations and individuals who wish to provide their views and comments to the Committee are invited to submit a written brief through the Clerk of the Committee. The deadline for written submissions is 30 September 2016.”
As of September 30, 2016, which is today, no meetings have taken place regarding this review. It is hoped that the deadline for written submissions will be extended as there has been little reported about the parliamentary review.
It is important to acknowledge that the Special Economic Measures Act has not been substantially reviewed or amended since it was enacted in 1992. A lot has changed in the world since 1992 and Canada’s use of unilateral economic sanctions has increased. The concept of unilateral economic sanctions and trade restrictions has evolved substantially since 1992.
Canada’s unilateral economic sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act and regulations thereto affect Canadian businesses. The Special Economic Measures Act prohibits Canadian persons in Canada and abroad from engaging in certain business activities that would otherwise be permitted. As a result, the review of the Special Economic Measures Act is very important to Canadian businesses that export, especially in the aerospace and defence, petroleuem & exploration, financial services and banking industries.
The Freezing of Assets of Corrupt Foreign Public Officials Act is a more recent law in Canada and is not as widely used. It does, however, impose burdens on Canadian businesses and persons when a foreign official is identified in a regulation made pursuant to the Act.
For more information about Canada’s economic sanctions, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have posted many articles about Canada’s economic sanctions on the LexSage website.