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Evaluating Australia's Magnitsky sanctions framework: challenges, opportunities and the role of civil society

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Evaluating Australia’s Magnitsky sanctions framework: challenges, opportunities and the role of civil society

Event held as part of "Magnitsky Month"

Date: Wednesday 29 November 2023

Time: 1.00pm – 2.15pm AEDT

Format: Webinar/online/virtual only

Description: In December 2021, Australia adopted a targeted human rights sanctions framework through the passing of the Autonomous Sanctions Amendment (Magnitsky-style and Other Thematic Sanctions) Bill 2021. This Bill amended the Autonomous Sanctions Act 2011, thereby creating a thematic sanctions regime to address serious violations of human rights, serious violations of international humanitarian law, serious corruption and other matters of concern.

Some heralded the introduction of Australia’s human rights sanctions framework as representing a unique opportunity for Australia to protect and promote human rights globally, by targeting human rights abusers and corrupt actors, as well as offering some measure of deterrence and accountability. Yet, Australia appears to have taken a cautious approach in imposing Magnitsky sanctions. Since the framework came into effect almost two years ago, it has only been utilised a small number of times. Moreover, there are issues with the framework’s ability to account for humanitarian exemptions as well as a lack of transparency as to how effectively sanctions measures are being enforced.

This webinar brings together a panel of experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities of Australia’s Magnitsky sanctions framework, and reflect upon the role that civil society may have in influencing aspects of the framework. It will also provide an overview and discussion of DFAT's recently released 'Information Note - Autonomous Human Rights and Corruption Sanctions'. 

This event is being held as part of “Magnitsky Month”. Magnitsky Month honours the legacy of Sergei Magnitsky, who was killed in a Russian prison in November 2009 after exposing corruption by government officials. The month coincides with the anniversary of his death and precedes the annual International Anti-Corruption Day and Human Rights Day (December 9 and 10), when new Magnitsky-style sanctions are sometimes announced. Organisations working in the targeted human rights and anti-corruption space use this time to advocate for the expanded and improved multilateral use of Magnitsky-style sanctions around the world.


Tasneem Roc, Campaign Manager at Myanmar Campaign Network: Tasneem Roc is the Campaign Manager for the Myanmar Campaign Network, an Australian national coalition formed following the 2021 coup in Myanmar, comprising human rights organisations, international aid NGOs, Myanmar diaspora organisations, trade unions and faith-based organisations. Tasneem has been active in a number of groups that support the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar including CRPH/NUG Support Group Australia and Blood Money Campaign (BMC). She is also the secretary of the Australian Karen Organisation (AKO) NSW.

Dr Anton Moiseienko, Lecturer in Law at the Australia National University: Dr Anton Moiseienko is a Lecturer in Law at the Australian National University. His work focuses on transnational crime, economic crime and cybercrime, as well as legal and policy aspects of targeted sanctions. He is the author of Corruption and Targeted Sanctions, a monograph on the legal and policy implications of ‘Magnitsky’ laws. Anton was previously a Research Fellow at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a UK defence and security think-tank.

Simon Henderson, Head of Policy at Save the Children Australia: Simon Henderson is an international human rights lawyer, academic and foreign policy analyst, with extensive experience in policy and advocacy in Australia and in the Indo-Pacific. Simon has had longstanding expertise working on sanctions, including working on the issues of accountability, access and compliance within government and civil society. He played a significant role in the establishment of the Magnitsky laws in Australia and has coordinated globally on the establishment and reforms of laws elsewhere. Simon is currently Head of Policy at Save the Children Australia, based out of Japan, where he is responsible for providing leadership on domestic and international child rights issues. He is also a Visiting Lecturer at The University of Tokyo and The Education University of Hong Kong where he teaches human rights. Simon sits on the Human Rights Committee of the Law Society of New South Wales and LAWASIA. He has previously worked in senior roles at Justice Centre Hong Kong, the Law Council of Australia and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Simon is admitted as a lawyer to the ACT Supreme Court and the High Court of Australia.

Melissa Chen, Senior Lawyer at the Australian Centre for International Justice: Melissa Chen is an Australian lawyer specialising in criminal law, international law and human rights. As Senior Lawyer at the Australian Centre for International Justice, she coordinates the Centre’s targeted human rights sanctions program, working with partner organisations to file sanctions submissions with the Australian government, seek action for potential breaches of Australia’s sanctions laws and advocate for improvements to Australia’s sanctions framework.

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