ADVOCATES are urging the government to legislate for stiff punishments against the perpetrators of acid attacks and to strictly regulate the sale of acid, as officials consider reforms aimed at cutting down on the violent assaults that have spiked in the last two months.
Observers were buoyed this week with news that government officials will convene a committee to address the issue, marking an apparent shift from previous public statements.
Am Sam Ath, technical supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said acid attacks should be treated as serious crimes as part of any new legislation.
“There should be a strong law and strong sentences for perpetrators,” he said.
“I think that when the law is approved, people who plan to use acid will stop and reconsider.”
The government should find a way to keep track of those who distribute acid and establish guidelines for its sale, said Ziad Samman, programme coordinator for the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity.
“If someone says, ‘I want to buy some acid’, somebody should be asking, ‘What are you going to use it for?’ These are small things we could do,” Samman said. “It’s a question of how do you make people more accountable.”
Samman called the government’s move a “positive step”.
“I think it’s a formal recognition that this is an important issue,” he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said the ministry plans to establish a committee to crack down on acid attacks and look at creating an “acid law” to punish perpetrators.
“I think we should create a law to manage both acid sellers and buyers,” he said.