MEMBERS of a government committee charged with drafting a law to curb acid crimes said Monday that they expect to complete the task by the end of the month.
The committee was formed in February after a spate of attacks that began late last year, and committee members originally said they expected a draft law to be completed shortly after Khmer New Year.
Ouk Kimlek, undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry and the deputy director of the committee, said Monday that he expected – but could not guarantee – that the committee would complete the draft law and submit it to the Council of Ministers for approval by the end of June.
“We are not 100 percent sure that the draft law will reach the Council of Ministers [by the end of the month], but we hope it will because we will try our best to complete it on time,” he said.
Ouk Kimlek said the original deadline for completion of the draft law had not been met because committee members were “busy with other work”.
“It is not so difficult for us to complete it, but we have many tasks to do besides this law,” he said.
Teng Savong, secretary of state at the Interior Ministry and the director of the committee, said a meeting had been held to discuss the draft law on Friday, but declined to elaborate on specific points raised.
An initial draft proposed harsh prison terms – including life sentences – for perpetrators of acid crimes, as well as restrictions on the sale of acid, among other things.
Teng Savong said he had not yet read a report that was presented to the committee by the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC) late last month because he had not yet received a Khmer translation.
“When I get the report in Khmer language, I will discus both the report and the law at the same time,” he said.
Chhun Sophea, CASC programme manager, said the report was designed to assist the government in drafting the law, and that she was working on getting a translation submitted as soon as possible.
“And if they press for the law to come out so fast, we might try to get a summary version translated even faster,” she said.
Ouk Kimlek said civil society input was encouraged. “We always consider their comments in order to make the law look good and have enough information,” he said.
The Council of Ministers will take around two months to consider the draft law before sending it on to the National Assembly for approval, he added.