Thursday, 24 September, 2020

Civil society organisations submit recommendations for new acid violence law

By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Sept. 17: A delegation of six civil society organisations on Wednesday submitted a set of recommendations for the drafting of a new legislation on acid violence to Minister for Law and Justice, Shivamaya Tumbahamphe.
The delegation of Amnesty International Nepal, Burn Violence Survivors Nepal, Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), Justice and Rights Institute Nepal (JuRI-Nepal), Legal Aid and Consultancy Center (LACC) Nepal and Women's Rehabilitation Center (WOREC) submitted the report to Minister Tumbahamphe at her office.
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 acid violence within 15 days. In subsequent meetings with survivors of acid violence, PM Oli has pledged that the new legislation, to be enacted through an ordinance, would address their grievances and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Their recommendations include calls for strict punishment, free treatment and adequate compensation to the survivors, provision of social security allowances, education and employment opportunities, counselling for both victims and perpetrators, regulation of sale and distribution of acid and other toxic substances and awareness generation programmes on the impact of acid violence.
While welcoming the government initiative to address the loopholes in the current law, the delegation noted that it was important to ensure that the new law adopted a comprehensive approach to dealing with acid violence, 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, he added.
Earlier this year, Amnesty International Nepal had submitted over 33,000 petitions demanding the government should implement a Supreme Court order to regulate the sale and distribution of acid to the Home Ministry.
Pratiksha Giri, executive director at Burn Survivors Nepal, highlighted that 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. The physical pain, the mental trauma, the impact on self-esteem and self-confidence suffered by survivors of acid violence and burn violence are similar in nature,” she said.
Therefore, it is essential that the new law addresses the issue of burn violence along with acid violence, said Giri.
Anita Neupane Thapaliya, executive chair of LACC Nepal, said it was crucial that the new law addressed issues concerning penalisation of perpetrators along with survivors’ safety, treatment and overall wellbeing.
"The upcoming law should have the provision for strict prosecution against perpetrators and for appropriate long-term socio-economic protection mechanism for survivors," Lubha Raj Neupane, executive director of WOREC Nepal, said.
The ordinance should come up as a special act rather than as a revision or amendment to provisions in the Criminal Code Act, said Mohan Lal Acharya, executive director of JuRI-Nepal.
“We're recommending life imprisonment, free treatment, relief and compensation, and regulation of sale and distribution of acid," he added.
Before the submission, the delegation had organised a meeting with stakeholders, including survivors of acid violence, to discuss the recommendations.
Sabin Shrestha, executive director of FWLD, emphasised the need for the new law to also include provisions concerning present survivors.
“Although it may not be possible to penalise past perpetrators of acid violence, nevertheless the new law should include provisions for treatment, relief and adequate compensation for the acid attack survivors," Shrestha said.  

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