Human Rights First Welcomes Australia’s Adoption of Magnitsky-Style Sanctions

WASHINGTON – Following years of advocacy by civil society, the Australian parliament on Wednesday unanimously voted to create a legal framework for a Magnitsky-style targeted sanctions program.

Human Rights First welcomes the new law, which will allow Australia to impose targeted sanctions on those responsible for serious human rights abuses, serious corruption, and other abuses, and to do so jointly with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the European Union and other partners with similar sanctions programs.

“This week, Australia signaled to human rights abusers and kleptocrats that they can no longer expect impunity for their actions. We encourage the Australian government to use this sanctions authority robustly and in coordination with partner governments to ensure the greatest impact,” said Amanda Strayer, Human Rights First’s Associate Attorney for Accountability. “We hope Australia’s action galvanizes efforts to adopt Magnitsky-style sanctions in New Zealand, Japan, and other countries so they do not become the next safe haven for abusers and their ill-gotten funds.”

Passage of the Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Bill 2021 in the Australian Senate followed a rigorous parliamentary inquiry. Human Rights First participated in this process and made a number of recommendations based on its work coordinating a coalition of human rights and anti-corruption organizations. Several of these recommendations, including provisions to address corruption and to sanction both state and non-state actors, were included in the final amendment, but the law does not formally provide a pathway for civil society input.

“We continue to urge the Australian government to establish a consultative process to enable civil society to share information about perpetrators and recommend specific sanctions targets,” said Strayer. “Civil society recommendations have been invaluable to the U.S. Global Magnitsky program, having served as a basis for at least one-third of U.S. Magnitsky sanctions. Similar engagement with civil society by the Australian government would provide a foundation for consistent and credible diplomacy in support of human rights around the world.”


Published on December 2, 2021


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