Australia imposes sanctions on Iran, Russia over human rights violations


Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong walks outside the Grand Pacific Hotel, the venue for the Pacific Islands Forum, in Suva, Fiji July 12, 2022. REUTERS/Kirsty Needham

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australia's foreign minister said on Saturday the government would place targeted sanctions on Russia and Iran in response to what it called "egregious" human rights violations.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement Australia was imposing Magnitsky-style sanctions on 13 individuals and two entities, including Iran’s Morality Police and Basij Resistance Force, and six Iranians involved in the crackdown on protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in custody in September.

In an opinion piece for the Sydney Morning Herald, Wong said the sanctions applied to Seyed Sadegh Hosseini, whom she described as a senior commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He was being listed for his alleged role in "indiscriminate use of violence against protesters".

"The Iranian regime’s flagrant and widespread disregard for the human rights of its own people has appalled Australians, and the perpetrators must be held accountable," Wong wrote in the newspaper on Saturday.

Seven Russians involved in what the foreign minister said was the attempted assassination of former opposition leader Alexei Navalny would also have human rights sanctions imposed on them, Wong said in her statement, issued with Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts.

In addition to human rights sanctions, Wong said Australia was placing further targeted financial sanctions on three Iranians and one Iranian business for supplying drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.

"The supply of drones to Russia is evidence of the role Iran plays in destabilising global security. This listing highlights that those who provide material support to Russia will face consequences," she said.

The announcement comes after Australia's centre-left Labour government in October imposed targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on 28 Russian-appointed separatists, ministers and senior officials after President Vladimir Putin proclaimed the annexation of four regions of Ukraine.

Since the start of the conflict, Australia has sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities, including most of Russia's banking sector and all organisations responsible for the country's sovereign debt.

It also has supplied defence equipment and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, while outlawing exports of alumina and aluminium ores, including bauxite, to Russia.

Australia's previous Liberal-National coalition government first imposed Magnitsky-style sanctions - measures that impose financial penalties and travel bans against individuals - in March against 14 Russians.

(Reporting by Sam McKeith; Editing by Bill Berkrot and William Mallard)

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