By Caribbean News Global
OTTAWA, Canada – Global Affairs Canada through the office of the minister of foreign affairs has announced sanctions against officials of the government of Belarus. The UK imposed landmark sanctions on Alexander Lukashenko, his son and senior figures in the Belarusian government under the UK’s new human rights sanctions regime.
“In coordination with the United Kingdom and in support of the people of Belarus, Canada is imposing sanctions against government of Belarus officials, including Aleksandr Lukashenko. These actions are being taken under the Special Economic Measures Act,” the statement continued. Since the fraudulent presidential elections in August 2020, the government of Belarus has conducted a systematic campaign of repression and state-sponsored violence against public protests and the activities of opposition groups. Canada remains deeply concerned by ongoing, well-documented reports of human rights violations, including against freedom of the press, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, as well as against free and fair democratic elections.”
The sanctions announced September 29, are part of a broader diplomatic effort by Canada to find a way towards a positive change in the current situation in Belarus. These include efforts at supporting the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, advocating for media freedom and support to civil society.
François-Philippe Champagne, minister of foreign affairs, said: “Canada will not stand by silently as the government of Belarus continues to commit systematic human rights violations and shows no indication of being genuinely committed to finding a negotiated solution with opposition groups. Canada and the United Kingdom are acting together to ensure these sanctions have a greater impact and to demonstrate unity in our condemnation of the situation. Canada stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus as they struggle to restore human rights and achieve democracy in their country.”
The UK foreign secretary announcement said the sanctions have been imposed as part of a coordinated international approach with Canada, in a bid to uphold democratic values and put pressure on those responsible for repression.
“Alexander Lukashenko’s regime is responsible for a string of human rights violations against opposition figures, media and the people of Belarus in the wake of rigged elections. Despite numerous calls from the international community, he has refused to engage in dialogue with the opposition, choosing instead to double down on his violent repression.”
The Global Human Rights sanctions regime gives the UK the power to stop those involved in serious human rights abuses and violations from entering the country, channelling money through UK banks, or profiting from our economy. Alexander Lukashenko is the first leader to have been sanctioned under the regime, which was introduced in July.
These sanctions build on earlier steps taken by the UK to hold the Belarusian authorities to account and to help secure a peaceful end to this crisis, which reflects the will of the Belarusian people. These steps include triggering an independent investigation into the flawed elections and human rights violations that followed, under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The UK has also doubled its financial support to human rights groups, independent media and community groups in Belarus to £1.5 million over the next two years.
The sanctions have been imposed in response to the torture and mistreatment of hundreds of peaceful protestors in custody following the fraudulent presidential elections. The Belarusian authorities have taken no action to hold those responsible to account. Many opposition figures have been arrested or forcibly deported and denied re-entry, in a clear show of Lukashenko’s disdain for dialogue with the opposition and for basic human rights.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “The UK and Canada have sent a clear message by imposing sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko’s violent and fraudulent regime. We don’t accept the results of this rigged election. We will hold those responsible for the thuggery deployed against the Belarusian people to account and we will stand up for our values of democracy and human rights.”