Kathmandu, Sept. 16 — A delegation representing six human rights and civil society organisations has submitted a set of recommendations for a new legislation on acid violence to Law and Justice Minister Shivamaya Tumbahangphe.
The delegation of Amnesty International Nepal, Burn Violence Survivors Nepal, Forum for Women, Law and Development, Justice and Rights Institute Nepal, Legal Aid and Consultancy Center Nepal, and Women’s Rehabilitation Center Nepal submitted the recommendations on Wednesday following Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s September 10 directive to the Law Ministry and other concerned officials to draft a new law on acid violence within 15 days.
In subsequent meetings with acid attack survivors, Oli had pledged to pass through an ordinance a new legislation prescribing stricter punishment for acid violence.
Issuing a statement on Wednesday, the delegation of six organisations said that it was important to ensure that the new law adopts 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,” said Nirajan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International Nepal. “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.”
Executive Director at Burn Survivors Nepal, Pratiksha Giri also noted 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,” Giri said. “Therefore, it is essential that the new law addresses the issues of burn violence along with acid violence.”
Anita Neupane Thapalia, the executive chair of Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre Nepal, said that both acid and burn violence need to be brought under the purview of the law.
“It is crucial that the new law addresses issues concerning penalisation of perpetrators along with survivors’ safety, treatment and overall well-being,” Thapalia said.
According to the statement, other recommendations put forth by the delegation include calls for strict punishment, free treatment and adequate compensation to survivors, provision of social security allowances, education and employment opportunities, counselling for both victims and perpetrators, regulation of sale and distribution of acids and other toxic substances, and creation of awareness programmes on the impacts of acid violence.
The organisations had held a meeting with stakeholders including acid attack survivors to discuss the recommendations before the submission.
Lubha Raj Neupane, executive director of Women’s Rehabilitation Centre Nepal, said acid attacks are the result of traditional patriarchal mindset and an inhuman attack on women’s agency.
“The ordinance should come out as a special act, rather than serve as a revision or amendment to the provisions in the Criminal Code Act,” said Mohan Lal Acharya, executive director of Justice and Rights Institute Nepal.
Sabin Shrestha, executive director of Forum for Women, Law and Development, 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, this new law should include provisions for treatment, relief and adequate compensation for acid survivors,” Shrestha said.
Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from EKantipur.com.