Draft Law To Give Acid Attackers Life Sentences

Vendors risk losing license if they fail to provide authorities with buyers’ details

Perpetrators of acid attacks will receive life sentences under a new draft law on the use and management of acid, a government official said yesterday.

Ouk Kimlek, deputy chairman for the committee responsible for drafting a law on acid and undersecretary of state for the Ministry of Interior, said the draft law would also include safeguards for victims, including improved health care and social reintegration schemes.

“It doesn’t matter if victims are dead or alive. They [perpetrators] will be imprisoned to life in jail and will pay large compensation to the victims,” Mr Kimlek said.

However, Mr Kimlek said at­tacks resulting in minor injuries would come with a smaller sentence, with a minimum of five years in prison.

The draft law is yet to be ap­proved by Interior Minister Sar Kheng and must be adopted by the Council of Ministers before it can be brought for a vote at the Na­tional Assembly.

In February, committee members completed the first draft and decided to ensure that importers and sellers of acid would have to be at least 20 years of age and licensed to carry out any transactions in acid.

Acid sellers will also have to record the details of all members of the public who buy acid.

Mr Kimlek said yesterday that those found guilty of selling acid without informing the authorities of the customer’s personal details would lose their license to sell the product and be subject to fines.

He said the second and final draft would be completed before the end of this month and would include 10 additional articles specifying health and social aid for victims.

“We are planning to add the creation of an acid foundation to generate money from all sources and nongovernmental organizations to help provide skills and capital for them,” Mr Kimlek said, adding that the creation of a state-run medical center for victims was also being considered.

Chhun Sophea, program manager for the Cambodian Acid Sur­vivors Charity, welcomed the proposed measures specified within the new draft law yesterday.

“I think the punishment should fit the crime,” she said. “People would probably think twice about attacking people.”

She said that further improvements to the law could still be made if measures to increase social awareness about the hardship of victims are included.

There is a large misconception in Cambodia that victims are in some way deserving of their wounds.

Ms Sophea said that a total ban on the selling of concentrated acid—which causes the worst type of burns to the skin and flesh—would also prove extremely useful when trying to stop serious injuries from acid attacks.

She also warned that compensation for victims should be sufficient enough to cover legal costs and medical treatment.

“You have to think about their family, how they will survive during treatment,” she said. “Some of them have six kids that go to school, and they cannot work any longer.”


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