AUSTRALIA should enact a world-leading law, first actioned by the US against Russian nationals, to apply targeted sanctions to perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption, according to a new Australian Parliament report.
Tabling the report in December, chair of the Human Rights Sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Kevin Andrews said Magnitsky-style targeted sanctions would align Australia with a global movement seeking to limit opportunities for human rights abusers, corrupt officials and their beneficiaries to enjoy the proceeds of their abuses.
"These recommendations would see Australia strengthen our commitment to protecting the human rights of people around the world. The report’s recommendations would see Australia implement a world leading version of Magnitsky legislation," Mr Andrews said.
The recommended targeted sanctions would include banning entry to Australia, and the capacity to seize assets.
"We cannot control whether perpetrators are brought to justice within their home country, but targeted sanctions legislation will make Australian beaches, schools, medical care and financial institutions off-limits to people who have profited from unconscionable conduct," Mr Andrews said.
"A targeted sanctions regime for serious human rights abuse and corruption will close the gap of opportunity for perpetrators and stop Australia becoming a safe haven for these people."
The report follows a wide-ranging inquiry which commenced in 2019 and incorporates submissions from over 160 individuals and organisations from around the world.
During the inquiry, the sub-committee heard evidence from a range of expert witnesses including lawyer Geoffrey Robertson OAM QC, lawyer and human rights activist Amal Clooney and Russian world chess champion and human rights advocate Garry Kasparov.
Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, Senator David Fawcett, endorsed the Sub-committee’s report.
"The community, legal experts, victims of human rights abuse, and our allies have spoken and the Committee has listened," Senator Fawcett said.
"Australia has an opportunity to become a leader in addressing human rights abuse and corruption, and we should do so at the first opportunity.
"Cooperation with like-minded nations on this matter has the potential to protect the human rights of countless citizens around the world. Australia is an attractive destination for investment and lifestyle, and we have the opportunity to reduce incentives for corrupt and unscrupulous human rights abusers.
"Respect for individuals and the freedoms that underpin the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lie at the heart of the values that have enabled the global rules based order to bring increased security and prosperity to the people of so many nations in recent decades."
Full report here.
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