Stronger human rights sanctions introduced

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The federal government is trying to make it easier to slap sanctions on serious human rights abusers and criminals.

The Magnitsky-style sanction laws - introduced in the Senate on Wednesday - would allow the government to hit those who conduct egregious acts of international concern, including human rights abusers.

The previous sanctions regime does not mention human rights and is not used for this purpose, leading to a joint parliamentary committee recommending more specific sanctions.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said it would allow the government to respond more directly to national security threats by targeting people proliferating weapons of mass destruction, committing human rights abuses or engaging in serious corruption.

"Our reforms will deny access to our economy for the proceeds of egregious abuses ... and ensure our banking systems do not become a safe haven for these proceeds and any associated foreign influence," Senator Payne said.

"Cyber sanctions serve as an important tool of statecraft. Rules apply online just as they do offline and perpetrators must be accountable."

Labor supports the Magnitsky-style laws, which are named after a Russian whistleblower who died in a Moscow jail after accusing Russian officials of tax fraud.

But the Greens foreign affairs spokesperson Janet Rice said the bill fell short of what Australia needed.

Senator Rice wants the new legislation to incorporate all 33 recommendations by the joint parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and defence, specifically, an independent advisory body that would make the process more transparent.

"Without this body, the power to impose sanctions will be solely at the foreign minister's discretion without having to provide reasoning to the Australian public," Senator Rice told AAP.

"We've seen the shortcomings of this ministerial discretion play out in relation to the foreign minister's unwillingness to impose targeted sanctions against the Myanmar junta."

Debate on the bill was adjourned until the next sitting period.

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