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Acid law passes

Acid law passes

A LAW to punish the perpetrators of acid attacks and regulate the use of acid in the Kingdom was passed by the National Assembly today following two days of debate.

Teng Savong, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior and director of the acid law committee, said that the government vowed to enforce the law properly once it went into effect.

“The acid law is an important tool for the government to control the strong acid effectively and sentence perpetrators who use strong acid to commit [crimes],” he said.

According to figures recorded by the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, 21 people have been injured with acid so far this year, including 16 people injured in attacks.

The law must now pass through the Senate and be signed by the King before coming into effect.

The 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.

Rights groups, lawmakers and victims have expressed concerns that the law does not explicitly address instigators and accomplices to acid attacks.

CASC project manager Ziad Samman said via email yesterday that the penal code dealt with co-perpetrators, accomplices and instigators, and provided that they would face the same punishment as perpetrators.

“However, CASC still maintains that an explicit mention in the legislation that co-perpetrators, accomplices, and instigators would receive the same punishments as perpetrators would have provided further insurance for effective implementation,” he said.

Ziad Samman added that greater penalties should apply to some perpetrators, including those who burn and cause injuries to multiple people.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Yont Tharo said that according to the law, those who used acid to commit “intentional violence on others” would face only two to five years in prison.

He added that those who committed acts that caused injury “unintentionally” would face between one month to one year in prison, both of which were “light penalties”.

“Ï support having the law, but there are loopholes in this law,” he said. “Giving small penalties cannot provide justice to victims.”

Hy Sophea, secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, said that people who unintentionally caused injury should not face large penalties.

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