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(AUSTRALIA) Magnitsky Sanctions Bill Report: Cyber hackers, human rights abusers and corrupt officials will be banned from visiting the country or investing their ill-gotten gains here, under historic legislation set to sail through the lower house of federal parliament today #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Dec.02: Targets could include cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, corrupt generals who undermine the rule of law in countries in our region, hackers who target Australia’s interests or Chinese officials involved in placing minority groups into detention.

#AceDailyNews says according to ABC Media News Report: Historic ‘Magnitsky’ sanctions bill that could ‘ruin’ hackers, rights abusers likely to pass in Australia:

Close up of a hand typing on a keyboard in a dark room
Cyber hackers, human rights abusers and corrupt officials could be individually sanctioned under the laws. (Pexels)

The proposed laws, which passed the Senate with unanimous support late on Wednesday will allow the Australian government to sanction individuals and entities responsible for “egregious conduct”, like threatening international peace and serious human rights violations.New human rights laws to impose sanctions, travel bans as the government will write new laws to allow Australia to impose financial sanctions and travel bans against countries that commit human rights abuses………Read more

The legislation is partly based on the United States’ Magnitsky Act, and similar laws are already in place in 33 other countries, including the UK and Canada.

However, by allowing “malicious” hackers to be sanctioned as well, Australia’s laws go further than any other.

They’ve been scrutinised by federal parliament since 2019, after being referred to a parliamentary committee for investigation by the Foreign Minister Marise Payne.

“It’s a historic moment for Australia,” said Bill Browder, the British-American hedge fund manager who has campaigned relentlessly for wealthy countries to introduce the laws.

“I feel overwhelmed with happiness – I’ve been working on this for five or six years. There’s a lot of people who didn’t want this to happen, a lot of bad guys intervening.”

“I actually never thought this day would come.”

‘If you get magnitsk-ied it ruins your life’

The Magnitsky-style legislation works on a simple principle.

Hackers, human rights abusers and corrupt officials often get very rich by exploiting weaknesses in the legal systems of their own countries or stealing from government owned corporations.

More often than not, they like to spend their money on luxury holidays abroad and invest in stable countries, such as the UK or Australia.

It is seen as a back-up in case they fall out with their ruling elite. For example, a number of wealthy Russians with links to the Kremlin have substantial assets in London.

But if a government decides to place a person on a Magnitsky-style sanction list, all that changes.

“Bad guys”, as Mr Browder calls them, are hit where it hurts. Assets can be frozen and seized, while travel becomes much more difficult.

“They really hate this so much,” he added.

Head shot of Businessman and Magnitsky Act campaigner, Bill Browder, looking straight into the lens
Bill Browder said Australia was previously unable to effectively sanction human rights abusers.(ABC News: Tim Stevens)

Mr Browder, who was once Russia’s biggest foreign investor, was inspired to start campaigning for the laws following the death of his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky.

Mr Magnitsky died in custody 12 years ago, after he’d been hired by Mr Browder to investigate a massive fraud case.

“He was killed by eight riot guards with rubber batons in prison,” Mr Browder told Sunday Extra.

“If you were to sanction all of Russia [due to the killing] all sorts of other people who are victims of the same regime would suffer too and that’s not right.”

“But it’s much easier and fairer to go after the individuals. Let’s freeze their assets, ban their travel.”

Mr Browder has received death threats on multiple occasions and been on the receiving end of several lawsuits from individuals and companies linked to the Kremlin.Government under pressure over human rightsSome in Canberra are asking why the federal government has been slow to act on human rights.

But he claims the “anger from the autocrats and dictators of the world” is a sign of how effective the legislation can be.

“If you get magnitsk-ied, it ruins your life,” he said.

“No bank will open an account, no country will give you a visa. Your family has trouble. You basically become a non-person in the financial world.”

“But better than that, for every person who is sanctioned there are 10,000 other people wondering if they are next.”

He argues it can cause an army officer to think twice about carrying out an atrocity or make a corrupt official question their choices.

Mr Browder has long seen Australia as a “hole” in the global network of “Magnitsky countries” but he is particularly pleased by the additional focus on cyber hackers.

“Cyber is such a crucial part of the malign arsenal of countries like China, like Russia, like Iran,” he added.

“This puts Australia at the cutting edge of these laws.”

Bipartisanship on display during parliament’s final days for the year

The Federal Opposition has been critical of how long it has taken for the Magnitsky-style legislation to be passed.

“The Morrison government’s delays in introducing Magnitsky-style sanctions have sent a regrettable message,” Labor Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong told the Senate.

“That Australia is not committed and that we don’t take human rights abuses seriously.”

Penny Wong holds up her hand while speaking to the media
Penny Wong criticised the government for delaying the legislation’s passage. (ABC News: Luke Stephenson)

But during a fairly fractious sitting period of parliament, the unanimous passage of the legislation was a notable example of bipartisanship and compromise, which led to a substantial development in foreign affairs policy.

“Denying the perpetrators and beneficiaries of egregious acts from accessing our economy, is essential and ensures they cannot benefit from the freedoms our democracy and rules-based order society allows,” Foreign Minister Marise Payne told senators.

“This reform will also importantly ensure that Australia does not become an isolated, attractive safe haven for such people and entities, and their ill-gotten gains.”

A portrait of a women in black wearing glasses, glancing to her right
Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne says the government will introduce reforms to its sanctions laws by the end of the year.

Human rights groups have welcomed the passage of the legislation.

Advocacy group Save the Children said it was particularly pleased to see an amendment that covers violations against children during war.

Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have moved swiftly to sanction dozens of individuals after passing similar laws.

When asked, the Morrison government declined to comment on whether it had specific foreign entities and people in its sights.

#AceNewsDesk report ………….Published: Dec.02: 2021:

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