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Officials mull stiff penalties for acid attacks

PERPETRATORS of acid attacks resulting in death or serious injury could face life in prison, and those who commit attacks resulting in lesser injuries could spend between 15 and 30 years behind bars, said a member of a government committee that met on Friday to firm up the details of potential punishments for acid crimes.

Ouk Kimlek, the committee’s deputy director and an undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said Sunday that the meeting had also covered acid “management”, meaning provisions related to buying, selling, importing and exporting the corrosive liquid.

“But we focused strongly on the punishment, because this is the very important thing. At last Friday’s meeting, the committee committed all together to make the acid law appear to punish users very strongly,” said Ouk Kimlek, who wrote the 20-article draft currently before the committee.

“It is a sentence of 15 to 30 years for injury, and if attacks lead to death or very serious injury, they will lead to life sentences,” he said, adding that examples of “very serious” injuries would be if victims were to become blind or deaf.

He said the committee still planned to finalise the draft law shortly after Khmer New Year, a timeline that was laid out last month.

He added that committee members did not want to unduly restrict the use of acid, which is routinely used to maintain motor vehicles, clear clogged drains and clean jewellery, and is readily available in markets.

“We don’t want this law to disturb people who use acid for making money, but we must stop the use of acid for fighting against someone,” he said.

Hout Sophorn, a social worker for the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said she agreed that the perpetrators of acid crimes should face stiff jail terms, adding that crimes for attacks resulting in injuries should lead to sentences even longer than 15 to 30 years.

Since the beginning of this year, the CASC has recorded 10 acid attacks, in which there were 12 victims, she said.

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