Canada joins international partners in imposing new sanctions in response to human rights violations in Xinjiang

News release

March 22, 2021 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

Today, Canada announced it is imposing new sanctions against 4 officials and 1 entity under the Special Economic Measures (People’s Republic of China) Regulations, based on their participation in gross and systematic human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). These measures are being taken in coordination with the United States and the United Kingdom, and in solidarity with the European Union.

These sanctions underscore Canada’s grave concerns with the ongoing human rights violations occurring in the XUAR, affecting Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities. Mounting evidence points to systemic, state-led human rights violations by Chinese authorities. This includes the mass arbitrary detention of more than 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities on the basis of their religion and ethnicity, as well as political re-education, forced labour, torture and forced sterilization.

Canada has raised the issue with Chinese authorities, and consistently voiced its deep concern over the repression of minorities in international forums in cooperation with partners, including at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Canada will continue to call on the People’s Republic of China to adhere to basic human rights and allow for meaningful, unfettered access to the XUAR so that impartial experts can observe and report on the situation first-hand. In the meantime, Canada will work collaboratively with partners to address the dire human rights situation in Xinjiang, including by ensuring consequences for this repression, with a view to ending it. We have the responsibility to work with others in the international community to ensure that any such allegations are investigated by an independent international body of legal experts.


“We remain deeply concerned by the egregious human rights violations that are taking place in Xinjiang at the hands of the Chinese state. Today, we are joining our partners in calling on the Government of China to put an end to this systematic campaign of repression against Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities and to hold those responsible to account.”

- Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Quick facts

  • On January 12, in coordination with the United Kingdom, Canada announced that it was adopting a comprehensive approach to defending the rights of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the XUAR, including measures to address forced labour.

  • Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities have faced significant repressive measures, including police surveillance, torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, forced patriotic education, forced labour, and mass arbitrary forced separation of children from their parents. 

  • Credible reports of systematic rape and gender-based sexual violence, as well as forced sterilization of women have been made public. 

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Syrine Khoury
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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