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Government’s sanctions proposal doesn’t go far enough on human rights

Experts and Parliamentarians have all urged Australia to introduce laws similar to the United States’ Magnitsky Act 2012, which would address both human rights violations and corruption, and be applicable to the immediate family members and direct beneficiaries of human rights abusers.
06 August 2021
Save the Children’s Head of Policy, Simon Henderson said this was an opportunity to address the clear and substantial gaps in Australia’s current sanctions regime through a new approach.
“The announcement by the Foreign Minister to strengthen Australia’s sanctions regime is a step in the right direction, but falls short of what is needed,” said Mr Henderson.
“Australia’s current sanctions regime does not go nearly far enough to hold perpetrators of human rights abuses to account.”
“We hold concerns that the Government only plans to amend existing legislation and not adopt a new, stand-alone sanctions regime.”
“A stand-alone Magnitsky Act would send the clearest possible signal that Australia will not tolerate human rights violations or corruption.”

Save the Children is concerned that the Government's proposal does not include any reference to violations of international humanitarian law as sanctionable activity.
Globally, grave violations against children in conflict – killing and maiming, recruitment, abduction, sexual violence and attacks on schools and hospitals – continue to increase.
“Our sanctions regime must act as a deterrence to those who would target schools and hospitals in armed conflict,” said Mr Henderson.
“However, narrowing the human rights criteria, as outlined in the Government’s response, may not cover such violations of international humanitarian law.”
“It is critical to ensure that Australia has the strongest possible sanctions regime to protect children from the most heinous crimes imaginable.”
“We’re eager to see the detail of the amendments and work with the Government on this important legislation.”

Save the Children Australia made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry, a supplementary submission and appeared before the Committee.
Media contact: Jane Gardner 0438 130

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