Australia has a strong history of promoting and protecting human rights globally, supporting the international rules-based order, and acting in the interests of international peace and security.
Today, Parliament has expanded Australia’s autonomous sanctions laws to enable the establishment of Magnitsky-style and other thematic sanctions through the Autonomous Sanctions (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Amendment Bill 2021, and the Autonomous Sanctions (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Amendment Regulations 2021.
The reforms will enable Australia to sanction individuals and entities responsible for, or complicit in, egregious conduct, including malicious cyber activity, serious human rights abuses and violations, and serious corruption. Australian governments will be able to establish further thematic sanctions regulations in the future, including in relation to serious violations of international humanitarian law.
The reforms will ensure Australia can take timely action, including with like-minded partners where it is in our national interest, to impose costs on, influence, and deter those responsible for egregious situations of international concern, wherever they occur in the world, while minimising impacts on general populations.
An increasing number of similarly attractive economies have joined the “Magnitsky movement”. This bill, which follows my referral to the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in 2019, is timely for Australia to ensure that we do not become an isolated, attractive safe haven for such people and entities, and their illegal gains.
This is a significant foreign policy and human rights reform, on which we encourage continuing public engagement. We thank all those who have worked collaboratively on this important issue, including the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, the Human Rights Sub-Committee, and others across Parliament and civil society organisations.