The government committee charged with drafting the new law on acid crimes met at the Interior Ministry yesterday to discuss how to regulate the distribution of the substance in order to prevent future acid attacks, an official said.
According to committee chairman Teng Savong, secretary of state for the Interior Ministry, the committee is debating articles in the draft law so that it can be sent for approval by the Council of Ministers.
“In the coming week we are going to meet again to discuss penalty and prosecution terms for acid crime. Everything is in progress…. So far we have the draft designed, but no details yet,” Mr Savong said. The committee will discuss penalties in the draft law with experts at the Justice Ministry, Mr Savong said.
In April, acid law committee deputy chairman Ouk Kimlek said that under the draft law perpetrators of acid attacks would receive life sentences. In February, committee members decided that importers and sellers of acid must be licensed and over 20 years old.
Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity program officer Chun Sophea welcomed the discussions, saying that publicity about the draft law may have contributed to a drop in attacks and the CASC had recorded none since April.
“People are waking up to this terrible crime,” Ms Sophea said, citing a recent acid-related arrest as an example.
Police in Phnom Penh arrested two women Noun Sineth, 34, and Roeun Mom, 20, on Tuesday evening in Daun Penh district, according to municipal military police commander Ya Kim Y. The pair, according to Mr Kim Y, were arrested for allegedly plotting an acid attack against a 20-year-old woman.
“[We] saw them beating up the girl. One woman was beating the girl and the other holding acid,” he said, adding that the suspects were sent to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday.
Ms Sophea said that the arrest was a good sign.
“It may be a one-off, but it is a start and will deter other attackers,” she said.
(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)