Civil Society Organisations submit recommendations for new law on acid attack

Kathmandu, September 16

A delegation of six civil society organisations today submitted a set of recommendations on drafting a new legislation to counter violence related to acid attack to Minister of Law and Justice Minister Shivamaya Tumbahangphe at her office.

The delegation comprised Amnesty International Nepal, Burn Violence Survivors Nepal, Forum for Women, Law and Development, Justice and Rights Institute Nepal, Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre Nepal and Women’s Rehabilitation Centre.

On September 10, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli had directed the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and other concerned officials to draft a new law on violence related to acid attack within 15 days. In subsequent meetings with survivors of acid attack, PM Oli had also pledged that the new legislation to be passed through an ordinance would address their grievances and push for stricter punishment for perpetrators.

While welcoming the government initiative to address loopholes in the existing law, the delegation noted that it was important to ensure that the new law adopts a comprehensive approach to deal with violence related to acid attack, one that focuses on all aspects of the crime and its impact on victims and survivors.

“The new law must include both preventive and punitive measures,” Nirajan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International Nepal said.

“As much as it is the state’s responsibility to punish criminals, it is also equally responsible for preventing such crimes in the first place.”

Pratiksha Giri, executive director at Burn Survivors Nepal said the new law should widen its scope to include incidents of burn violence as well. “Acid violence and burn violence are both inhumane and heinous crimes.

Physical pain, mental trauma, impact on self-esteem and self-confidence suffered by survivors of acid attack and burn violence are similar in nature,” said Giri.

Anita Neupane Thapalia, executive chair of Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre Nepal echoed similar sentiments. “Victims of acid attack and burn violence need to be brought under the purview of law,” Thapalia said.

Recommendations include calls for strict punishment, free treatment and adequate compensation to survivors, provision of social security allowance, education and employment opportunity, counselling for victims and perpetrators, regulation of sale and distribution of acid and other toxic substances and creation of awareness programs on the impact of acid attack.

Lubha Raj Neupane, executive director of WOREC Nepal said, “Women are especially victimised through acid attack. Acid attack is the result of patriarchal mindset and this is an inhuman attack on women. Hence, upcoming law should have the provision for strict prosecution against perpetrators and for appropriate long-term socio-economic protection mechanisms for survivors.”

Mohan Lal Acharya, executive director of JuRI-Nepal said, “The ordinance should be issued as a special act, rather than serve as a revision or amendment to provisions in the Criminal Code. We are recommending life imprisonment, free treatment, relief and compensation and regulation on sale and distribution of acid.”

Before submitting the document, the delegation had held a meeting with stakeholders including survivors of acid attack to discuss the recommendations.

Sabin Shrestha, executive director of Forum for Women, Law and Development emphasised the need for the new law to also include provisions concerning the present survivors.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 17, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.