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Passage of Acid Attack Law Welcomed, With Caveats

Nov Rey, 50, an acid attack victim, looks on as she waits to sing during a performance by traditional Cambodian musicians, file photo.

The National Assembly on Friday passed a law to against acid attacks, providing long-term recovery costs for victims and a sentence of up to 30 years for assailants.

However, critics of the law as passed said it contained loopholes that could be exploited by unscrupulous court officials.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said Article 20, which provides only three to five years of jail for offenders in certain cases, was too lenient.

“Article 20 should have been removed from the law,” he said.

Horng Lairapo, head of the legal unit for the Cambodian Acid Survivors Network, said he was happy with the the law’s passage, but he said some articles are unclear.

“We hope this law will be enforced,” said Am Sam Ath, chief investigator for the rights group Licadho. “It will be able to reduce the acid attack against other people.”

Som Bunnarith, 40, who was blinded by an acid attack, said he was happy the law was passed.

Horng Lairapo said that his group now helps about 345 attack victims.

Am Sam Ath, lead investigator for the rights group Licadho, said that the acid attack throughout the country can reach to 40 cases in each year.