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Acid law expected to pass

Acid law expected to pass

The long-awaited draft law set to punish the perpetrators of acid attacks is expected to be approved today following a debate among lawmakers at the National Assembly, officials said yesterday.

Ouk Kimlek, under-secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and deputy director of a committee tasked with drafting the legislation, said the ministry expected the draft law would be approved today.

“[The law] will be sent to the Senate,  then to the King for signing, so we hope  this law will be used all over the country by the end of this year,” he said.

Acid attacks are a frequent occurr-ence in the Kingdom, with figures from the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity recording 21 people injured with acid  this year – 16 of them in attacks.

Members of the National Assembly discussed three chapters among six in the draft law yesterday, with Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Mu Sochua suggesting several amendments and additions, including recommendations made last month by prominent acid attack survivor Tat Marina.

The former karaoke singer, who was brutally attacked in the capital in 1999 and now lives as a political refugee in the US, told the Post  last month the draft law should include stronger penalties for perpetrators and punishment for instigators and accomplices.

“[Tat Marina] wants to have the right to tell the judge what kind of penalty the perpetrators and accomplices should get,” Mu Sochua said.

Rights groups and lawmakers have also voiced concerns that the draft law focused solely on perpetrators of attacks. An unofficial translation of the most recent version of the draft law obtained by the Post does not mention either instigators or accomplices.

Mu Sochua told the Assembly that chapter 3 of the legislation should include provisions for the government to provide lifelong, free medical treatment and support to acid victims and that special treatment
centres should be established.

“The perpetrator should also pay money to the victim to support their living for their whole life because they cannot earn money to support their family after they are attacked by acid,” she said.

She added that the law should provide for free legal support for victims, training of officials in how to investigate acid attacks and punishment for those who conspired to derail investigations.

The draft law states that “intentional killing” with acid is punishable by 15 to 30 years in prison. It also states that “torture and cruel acts” using acid are punishable by 10 to 20 years in prison and “intentional violence” using acid could result in two to five years in prison, but does not elaborate on these terms.

Horng Lairapo, chief of the medical and legal unit at CASC, said yesterday that he was concerned about approval of the law being rushed and requested civil society be allowed more input.

“The government, they don’t have the real statistics, they have to get the statistics from CASC,” he said.

Teng Savong, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and director of the acid law committee, said that the government could not add provisions to provide lifelong treatment for victims.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MARY KOZLOVSKI

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