The Interior Ministry will submit a draft law on the use and management of acid to the Council of Ministers for review by the end of the year, an official said yesterday.
The government held its first committee meeting to draft a law, which includes life sentences for the most serious offences, in February and originally announced that a draft of the law would be complete by April.
But that date was pushed back after the large number of provisions that had to be devised became apparent: criminal sentences for perpetrators, health care for victims and rules on the purchase, sale and transport of acid.
The new completion date of the long-awaited law comes after an increase in public awareness of acid crimes, including the case of Chea Ratha, the fugitive former deputy military police chief of staff convicted of orchestrating an acid attack against her ex-lover’s aunt in 2008.
Interior Ministry Secretary of State Teng Savong, who chairs the committee drafting the law on acid, said that officials were currently discussing articles concerning procedures to provide health care to victims as well as deciding on which government institutions would be responsible for regulating the management and use of acid.
“We are still discussing on some points concerning the control of acid and the role of rescue services,” Mr Savong said. He also acknowledged that many perpetrators of acid attacks were still at large due to the limited ability of the police to catch attackers.
“It is the authority’s responsibility to catch the criminal,” he said. “The public still has doubts with the authorities.”
In April, acid law committee deputy chairman Ouk Kimlek said that under the draft law perpetrators of acid attacks would receive life sentences. And in February, committee members decided that importers and sellers of acid must be licensed and over 20 years old.
Under current law, acid violence is not explicitly listed as a criminal offense, and it is prosecuted as an ordinary assault or attempted murder.
According to the Phnom Penh-based Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, there have been a total of 18 recorded attacks, four accidents and one suicide attempt with acid in Cambodia between January and October, inflicting burns on 39 people. Twenty of the casualties were male and 19 were female. The victims came from Phnom Penh as well as Kompong Cham, Battambang, Kompong Thom and Kandal provinces.