Sunday, January 23, 2022

US, Europe expand sanctions on Belarus for ‘migrant smuggling’

The sanctions target senior security and justice officials, prominent media figures, a son of Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko, defence-related firms and a major fertiliser exporter.

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The US, Canada and European allies expanded sanctions on Belarus on Thursday, placing restrictions on government figures and entities for human rights abuses and official support for “migrant smuggling.”

The sanctions targeted senior security and justice officials, prominent media figures, a son of Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko, defence-related firms and a major fertiliser exporter.

The US Treasury also restricted the trading of some Belarus sovereign debt by US entities.

The sanctions were in response to “continuing attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus, disregard for international norms and repeated acts of repression,” said a joint statement from the US, Britain, Canada and the European Union.

The statement demanded Lukashenko’s regime “immediately and completely halt its orchestrating of irregular migration across its borders with the EU.”

“We call for the regime to unconditionally and without delay release its almost 900 political prisoners (and) end its campaign of repression,” it said.

Washington said its sanctions target “migrant smuggling and victimization of migrants.”

“Today’s actions demonstrate our unwavering determination to act in the face of a brutal regime that increasingly represses Belarusians, undermines the peace and security of Europe, and continues to abuse people seeking only to live in freedom,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

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