Australia should adopt Magnitsky-style legislation to sanction human rights violators

30/04/2020
Press release

(Paris) Australia should introduce and adopt legislation that targets individuals responsible for serious human rights violations and acts of corruption worldwide, FIDH said today.

In a submission made today to the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade - Human Rights Sub-committee, FIDH argues that the enactment of such legislation by Australia would strengthen human rights protections particularly in regard to ongoing rights abuses in Cambodia. Targeted sanctions legislation could also be used to provide protection and support to Cambodian nationals in Australia.

“Many members of Cambodia’s ruling elites, who have long been responsible for endemic corruption and rampant human rights violations in the country, are known to have invested their ill-gotten fortunes in Australia. It’s time for Australia to enact legislation that would sanction members of Cambodia’s ruling elites responsible for serious human rights violations and deter further abuses and acts of corruption.”

Adilur Rahman Khan, FIDH Secretary-General

Legislation that introduces targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses has already been adopted in the US, with the enactment of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act; in Canada, with the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (also known as Sergei Magnitsky Law); and in the UK, with the “Magnitsky amendment” to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Adopting Magnitsky-style legislation would bring Australia into alignment with these jurisdictions and would improve Cambodia’s civil society organizations’ access to sanctioning mechanisms for human rights violations and acts of corruption.

On 3 December 2019, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne launched an inquiry into whether Australia should examine the use of targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses. The inquiry will be conducted by the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Trade. To date, the Committee has received more than 120 submissions.

On the basis of these submissions, the Committee has called, and will continue to call, witnesses to give further evidence to submissions, where deemed appropriate. FIDH stands ready to attest to the rights violations suffered by the Cambodian people and the potential benefits of a sanctioning mechanism in safeguarding citizens from these abuses.

Press contact
Ms. Eva Canan (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
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