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ODF’s recommendations on the adoption of Magnitsky-style sanctions in Australian legislation

ODF is a long-standing promoter and advocate of the Global Magnitsky Act. Hence, as a response to the inquiry into whether Australia should examine the use of targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses, ODF submitted its recommendations with the aim of encouraging the adoption of Magnitsky-style sanctions in the national legislation. Our submission, authored by ODF’s team, is available on the Parliament’s website, after  becoming an official document of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade – Human Rights sub-committee.

This set of recommendations provides comprehensive information about EU-wide Magnitsky Act initiatives, ODF’s advocacy campaign to fight impunity in non-democratic countries, as well as arguments in support of the adoption of targeted sanctions as a key foreign policy tool to punish human rights abusers. The document also explains the types of existent individual sanctions, their criteria and scope . Additionally, based on ODF’s expertise and knowledge of a network of human rights organisations, we describe the methods and the criteria of determining perpetrators of serious human rights abuses and the role that civil society plays in the imposition of targeted sanctions. Most importantly, we highlight that one of the most significant  sources in the process of evaluating and listing human rights violators should be reports and studies produced by NGOs, which can provide objective and credible information to government agencies.

Additionally, we underline the importance for the Australian Parliament of including in the national legislation a sanction mechanism against officials of individual states who disregard the decisions of the UN, the European Court of Human Rights and other international human rights bodies. The submission  provides the examples of Russia, which has cancelled the priority of international law over domestic law at the legislative level, as well as the one of Kazakhstan where  systematic human rights violations, including politically motivated imprisonments and assassination like the one of  of DCK activist and blogger Dulat Agadil, continue unabated. Furthermore, we present the case of  Moldovan oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, now under sanctions for grand corruption by the US, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, as a successful example of efforts of anti-corruption activists and of the application of personal sanctions.

Based on our experience, we express our conviction that the adoption of Magnitsky-type sanctions in national legislation would help Australia to strengthen its position in the region as one of the most powerful human rights actors, as will be the case for any other state which adopts it.

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