" Killing fields of Cambodia, not the only injustice for Cambodian victims only; but, it's for the whole humanity." A survivor

Cambodian lawmakers approve law on acid attacks

PHNOM PENH, November 4, 2011 (AFP) – Cambodia’s lower house of parliament on Friday approved a long-awaited law aimed at curbing acid attacks by imposing sentences ranging from two years to life in prison.

The legislation, expected to be approved by the senate and the king later this year, also regulates the licensing and sale of the caustic liquid, which is currently widely and cheaply available in the country.

“The law will prevent acid offences,” Teng Savong, secretary of state at the interior ministry and director of the acid law committee, told AFP.

Acid attacks are a common form of revenge in the impoverished Southeast Asian nation and campaigners have long called for harsh punishments for perpetrators who have so far rarely faced justice.

“Today marks an important step towards addressing acid violence in Cambodia,” said Ziad Samman, project manager of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity (CASC), which looks after acid burn victims.

But he said he was disappointed with the minimum sentence under the new law, which he said did not “reflect the nature of this barbaric crime.”

“If a perpetrator is sentenced to only two years in prison, they may be able to complete their prison sentence before the acid burn survivor has completed their medical treatment,” he said.

While there are no official statistics and many cases go unreported, CASC recorded 287 acid attacks between 1984 and 2011, injuring more than 300 people.

In the first nine months of this year, the charity recorded 10 attacks that burned 16 people.

Until now, acid convictions have been extremely few and far between in Cambodia, with CASC saying that 90 percent of its cases have not gone to court.

In the few cases where perpetrators have been found guilty, “we generally see sentences ranging from two to four years,” he told AFP.

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