Amal Clooney Wants Magnitsky Law For Australia Amid Coronavirus Crisis

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George and Amal Clooney arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala)
George and Amal Clooney arrive at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala (Met Gala) to celebrate the opening of "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination" in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., May 7, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid - RC1DAAF7CB40 Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is urging Australian members of the parliament to adopt the Magnitsky Act in a bid to sanction human rights violators that will use the coronavirus pandemic as cover up.

The Magnitsky Act is a law passed by the U.S. congress in 2012 that imposes sanctions on human rights offenders. It is named after Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud by Russian government officials. Magnitsky testified against the officials but was later arrested, tortured and then found dead in his cell.

Clooney, who is the wife of famed actor George Clooney, told MPs the government has a role in making sure abuses do not proliferate during this time of global crisis. Clooney is a strong advocate of the law, which is also in effect in the U.S. and U.K. She believes Australia is in the best position to impose the law because of its position as an influence in the Asia-Pacific region, The Guardian noted.

“The current health crisis has only served to exacerbate what was an existing human rights crisis,” said Clooney during a joint committee on foreign affairs, defense and trade.

“It seems at times that there is so much bad news in the world that our moral nerve endings have been deadened — meaning abuses will thrive and impunity will remain the norm.”

Clooney praised Australia for its successful response to the coronavirus pandemic. However, this very power to impose restrictions on people can be used as a way to obstruct the very rights of the public.

“In the past few months we have seen more than 80 governments rush through emergency laws that grant them sweeping new powers over their people,” said Clooney.

“Governments have  criminalised so called fake news  on the pandemic and had scores of journalists arrested while deadly untruths have spread.”

US financier Bill Browder echoes the same sentiments. According to Browder, as a champion of rights and anticorruption, Australia should adopt the law.

“If Australia does not have its own Magnitsky Act, the country is at risk of becoming a magnet for dirty money from human rights abusers and kleptocrats from around the world.”

Clooney noted, “abuses of [power] thrive when no one is watching.”

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