Cambodia to draft new law against acid attacks

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Associated Press

Posted on February 4, 2010 at 6:33 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 4 at 6:33 AM

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia plans to draft a new law in a bid to stop the growing number of attacks in which jealous wives, vengeful businessmen and others have hurled acid at their rivals, a government official said Thursday.

More than 10 people were assaulted with acid in 2009, and three last month alone, according to statistics from a nongovernment group that helps victims of the attacks.

"For the attackers, using acid to attack their opponents is very easy, not hard to keep and hide like guns," said Deputy Minister of Interior Teng Savong.

Acid attackers are currently tried under the general criminal law, and Teng Savong said that due to the increasing number of attacks, specific legislation with heavy punishments was needed to curb such vicious acts.

In recent years, the majority of acid attacks have stemmed from marital and business disputes. Jealous wives have attacked or hired others to attack girlfriends of their husbands and small-time businessmen have used acid to injure and disfigure rivals.

Last month, a market vendor quarreled with a neighbor who then hired two men to douse the vendor's two daughters with acid as they rode a motorcycle through the streets of Phnom Penh.

Pin Damnang of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, a nongovernmental organization that gives free medical treatment to acid victims, said figures gathered by his group show that more than 10 people suffered from attacks last year and at least three were attacked in January. Official figures were not available.

Teng Savong, who is also a chairman of the government committee to draft the law, said the country's legal experts are expected to hold their first meeting at the end of this month and will take several months to complete the task.

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