He urged Wong to accept the Coalition’s offer of bipartisan support to introduce sanctions “without further delay” and “send a strong message that Australia is serious about these human rights violations”.
Daniela Gavshon, director of Human Rights Watch Australia, queried what message the government was trying to send with its inaction.
“Twelve months on from the release of the High Commissioner’s damning report on Xinjiang, the Australian government should join other democracies in holding serious human rights abusers in China to account. By not doing this, what message is Australia sending?” Gavshon said.
“In recent days China’s President Xi Jinping has made clear his intent to continue widespread, systematic abuses.
“It is up to the Albanese government to demonstrate, through tools like sanctions, that this conduct cannot be tolerated and abusers will be made accountable.”
Australia’s law to punish human rights abusers, the Magnitsky Act, named after the murdered Russian tax accountant Sergei Magnitsky, was introduced in December 2021 and first used against Russians in March 2022.
The law has been used against Myanmar, but never against China.
Since coming to government, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said he wanted to stabilise Australia’s relationship with China, which reached a nadir under the former government when former prime minister Scott Morrison called for an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.
Wong’s spokeswoman said the UN’s findings were harrowing and the minister acknowledged the “pain and distress” in the Australian Uyghur community.
“The resumption of dialogue with China has enabled Australia to raise our deep concerns about the situation in Xinjiang at the highest levels,” the spokeswoman said.
“We will continue to press China bilaterally and advocate in multilateral institutions for transparency and accountability.”
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