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Australia and sanctions

Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Act 2021

International relations

The Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Bill 2021 (the Act) commenced on 8 December 2021.

The Act amends the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011 to reform Australia's autonomous sanctions framework. The reforms are part of the Australian Government's response to the December 2020 report of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT) inquiry into the use of sanctions to target human rights abuses, ‘Criminality, corruption and impunity: Should Australia join the Global Magnitsky movement?'.

The Act ensures that autonomous sanctions regimes, established under the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 (the Regulations), can be either country-specific or thematic. It sets out in legislation an illustrative list of themes that sanctions can address: the proliferation of weapon of mass destruction; threats to international peace and security; malicious cyber activity; serious violations or serious abuses of human rights; activities undermining good governance or the rule of law, including serious corruption; and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Now that the Act has commenced, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will submit to the Governor‑General amendments to the Regulations to establish new thematic sanctions regimes in relation to: serious human rights violations and abuses, serious corruption, and significant cyber incidents. An exposure draft of the amendments to the Regulations is available to download.

The new thematic sanctions regimes will enable the imposition of targeted financial sanctions and travel bans, including to ensure increased scrutiny of perpetrators of the most egregious situations of international concern. They will enable Australia to respond more flexibly and swiftly to a range of situations of international concern, including in collaboration with our close allies and partners when in our national interest.

These reforms to Australia's autonomous sanctions framework will allow Australia to deny perpetrators and beneficiaries of the most egregious conduct of international concern from accessing our economy and benefiting from the freedoms our democracy allows. Positioning Australia to act more quickly to freeze the funds of perpetrators and beneficiaries, and to prevent them from travelling here, will ensure that we do not become an isolated, attractive safe haven for such people and entities, and their ill-gotten gains.


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