Canada Imposes Additional Sanctions on Myanmar


Authors: Anne-Marie Oatway

The Government of Canada recently imposed sanctions on additional entities and individuals under its existing sanctions on Myanmar (formerly Burma).

Myanmar Sanctions

On May 14, 2021, the Government of Canada expanded its existing sanctions regime under the Special Economic Measures Act (“SEMA”) with respect to Myanmar. It amended the Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations[1] (“Myanmar Regulations”) to designate 10 new entities and 16 new individuals. These latest sanctions target key senior military and military-appointed officials, family members of designated officials, and affiliated commercial entities.

The Myanmar Regulations now impose sanctions on 54 entities and 70 individuals that are part of or linked to Myanmar’s military regime. The sanctions continue to include an asset freeze and an arms embargo.

Background on Myanmar Sanctions

The Myanmar Regulations were first enacted in December 2007 to respond to the gravity of the human rights and humanitarian situation in Myanmar. Most of the sanctions were suspended in April 2012, following apparent progress towards democracy and improvements in the human rights situation in Myanmar.

However, a surge in violence, including significant and widespread security and “clearing operations” by Myanmar’s armed forces (Tatmadaw) against the Rohingya population, led to a humanitarian and security crisis in Myanmar and neighbouring Bangladesh. As a result, the Government of Canada amended the regulations and imposed sanctions on 7 individuals in June 2018 who were senior officials in Myanmar’s military during the military operations against the Rohingya.

On February 18, 2021, the Myanmar Regulations were further amended in response to the coup d’état in Myanmar. The additional sanctions target nine individuals who are senior officials in Myanmar’s military that were either directly involved in the coup as part of the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) or are members of the military regime’s new governing body, the State Administration Council.

According to the Government of Canada, the latest May 2021 amendments were made in response to the Tatmadaw’s continued violence and repression against the people of Myanmar, their refusal to take steps to restore democracy, and intransigence to date.

Canada’s Sanctions Regime

Sanctions are key tools for the international community to support peace and security and enforce international laws and norms. The Government of Canada imposes sanctions through three statutes, the SEMA, the United Nations Act (“UNA”), and the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Canada has imposed SEMA sanctions that target 13 countries and UNA sanctions that target 12 countries and various terrorist entities. Canada has imposed sanctions on 70 foreign nationals under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.

Canadian companies that do business overseas should actively monitor their supply chains for potential sanctions risk. In particular, all Canadian companies with links to a country where Canadian sanctions are in place should have a compliance program that accounts for the level of risk associated with their operations.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about compliance with sanctions imposed by Canada, please contact the author of this article.

[1] Special Economic Measures (Burma) Regulations (SOR/2021-106).