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Panel puts off delivery of draft acid law

Panel puts off delivery of draft acid law

A GOVERNMENT committee tasked with formulating a law to curb acid crimes decided to delay sending its final draft to the Council of Ministers, its deputy director said yesterday.

Ouk Kimlek, who is also an undersecretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said last month that he expected the committee to finalise the draft law and send it to the Council of Ministers before July 1. Yesterday, however, he said that although the draft had been completed, committee members wanted more time to reconsider specific provisions before sending it off.

In particular, he said the committee wanted to make sure the stiff sentences outlined in the draft – early versions of which called for maximum sentences of life imprisonment for serious acid crimes – were defensible. “To have a good law, we cannot spend a short time to do it because we don’t want to see this law have problems after it is approved, maybe because it lacks some points or it is not a complete law,” he said.

He cited as an example the proposed sentence of 10 years for intentional battery with acid, which is eight years longer than the current baseline sentence for intentional battery.

“Why is this law different from the others when it is the same charge? So that’s why we need to develop good reasons to support our law in order to protect it,” he said.

He added that he could not provide a concrete date by which the draft would be sent to the Council of Ministers, but said he hoped it would happen by the end of the year.

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.

Teng Savong, the committee’s director and a secretary of state at the Interior Ministry, said its members were still welcoming input from NGOs, legal experts and other observers.

Ziad Samman, coordinator of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said his organisation had recorded 16 acid attacks through the first six months of the year.

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