On Sunday, a goldsmith in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district became the seventh recorded victim of an acid attack this year, shining a light on the effect of the Acid Law after six months in force, rights groups said yesterday.
The 25-year-old victim, Thol Polo, was burned across his entire face and doctors are attempting to save his vision after his 51-year-old nemesis, Tang You Hout, kicked a pot of acid used for treating gold into his face, police said.
“The suspected perpetrator had a gasoline store next to the victim and wanted the victim to move his shop, because he was afraid of having a fire caused in his shop,” Dangkor district police chief Loth Khim said.
He said the victim’s family had filed a complaint with police to have the suspect sentenced under the Acid Law and requested an as-yet-unspecified amount of compensation.
“We arrested the suspect, and he said he did not have the intention to kick the acid at the victim, but that he did it without considering [the consequences],” the police chief added.
He said the incident was the first acid attack in Dangkor district since the Acid Law was passed last December, “but [police] have not been trained about the Acid Law yet because the sub-decree [for implementation] has not been signed yet.”
Horng Lairapo, medical and legal manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said the first six months of the Acid Law’s existence had been fraught with barriers to implementation and awareness.
“Everything is very slow.The only cases that have gone to court are still in court and, mostly, acid perpetrators are free to continue to threaten their victims,” he said.
Horng Lairapo said government authorities also needed to do more to control acid and educate the Kingdom’s citizens about the new law.
“Particularly, we are concerned about the lack of understating on rubber plantations,” Lairapo said, adding there needed to be “at least one hour, once a week for a year” of public education via radio or television.
Thol Polo will begin treatment in hospital today.