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Sentencing fears remain despite acid law’s passage

A charithy working with the victims of acid attacks remains concerned that certain penalties in the acid law passed by the National Assembly on Friday did not go far enough in punishing the perpetrators of attacks.

The acid law, which also aims to regulate the sale and distribution of acid, was passed with an 81-4 majority by the National Assembly. It must now pass through the Senate and be signed by the King before coming into effect.

In an emailed statement on Friday, Ziad Samman, project manager at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, noted concerns that sentencing provisions in the legislation do not reflect the brutal nature of the crime.

“Multiple people can be burned in a single attack,” he said. “Perpetrators who burn and cause injury to multiple people should receive a greater punishment.”

The Acid Law does not differentiate or make reference to age in relation to sentencing.

Samman added that the argument can be made that perpetrators who cause injury to children should face harsher penalties.
“The Acid Law does not differentiate or make reference to age (of perpetrator or the victim) in relation to sentencing,” he said.

According to figures recorded by CASC, 21 people have been injured with acid so far this year, including 16 people injured in attacks.

The most recent version of the law obtained by the Post states that “intentional killing” with acid is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison, “torture and cruel acts” using acid are punishable by 10 to 20 years and “intentional violence” using acid could result in two to five years in jail. However, the law does not elaborate on these terms.

It further states that suspects may face life imprisonment if the offence includes “advanced plan or ambush” or “torture or cruel acts before or in the time of killing”.

Rights groups, lawmakers and victims have also expressed concern that the law does not explicitly address instigators and accomplices.

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