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Ministers approve acid draft

Ministers approve acid draft

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A woman receives treatment for acid burns at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, earlier this month.

A long-awaited draft acid law set to regulate the use of acid and punish the perpetrators of acid attacks in the Kingdom was approved by the Council of Ministers on Friday, officials said yesterday.

Ouk Kimlek, secretary of state at the Ministry of Interior who was tasked with drafting the law, said that under the draft legislation perpetrators of acid attacks could face life imprisonment when victims died or were seriously injured, and people who illegally sold acid or accidentally caused burns may face more lenient sentences.

“It can be difficult to implement [a law] for the first time, but before using it or implementing it we have to educate all people [about the law],” he said, adding that he was unsure when the recently-approved legislation would be sent to the National Assembly.

A statement released by the Council of Ministers on Friday said that acid attacks were a “cruel and inhumane” offence.

“[This] special law … aims to control strong acid effectively, and to jointly protect social security and social safety as well as promote the health of the people,” the statement said.

The draft legislation was initially sent to the Council of Ministers in March and currently includes six chapters and 27 articles.

Horng Lairapo, chief of the medical and legal unit at the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said yesterday that while punishment for the perpetrators of acid violence was crucial, the legislation must also focus on preventing acid attacks.

“We want to stop the acid violence,” he said. “If you just include the punishment, just put  people in prison, we are not preventing [acid attacks].”

Horng Lairapo added that the legislation must limit the sale of acid to relevant industries, mandate quotas for its importation and include provisions for the clear labelling of containers storing acid.

“Regular people are not allowed to carry [guns] because it’s dangerous, and acid is also like a weapon,” he said.

According to figures recorded by CASC, 20 people have been injured in acid attacks so far this year.

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