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Acid Attack Activity Report

On the date of September 10th 2020, Prime Minister Oli made a public announcement to bring “Ordinance” within 15 days to address the issues of victim of acid attack.[1] In this pretext, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has been drafting the “Ordinance” to address issue related acid attack and its victim in the country.  In this context, on 20th September 2020, on behalf of various networks and organizations, in the representation of Ms. Indu Tuladhar, Executive Chair of Himal Innovative Development and Research Pvt. Ltd (HIDR) & ad hoc committee member of IGFF, a memorandum on the proposed ordinance on Control of Offences related to Acid Attack was handed over to Honorable Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Shivmaya Tumbahangphe. This memorandum was undersigned and supported in person by Ms. Bharati Silwal Giri, National Network Against Girls Trafficking (NNAGT) & Ms. Sushila Shrestha, Beyond Beijing Committee Nepal (BBC), Alka Shrestha (HIDR) and Ms. Rajkumari Dura, Gyan Bodh Research and Development Services. The memorandum was further undersigned by COMMIT Nepal, Blue Diamond Society, SAFE Nepal, and Prayatna Nepal.

HIDR lead the review of the existing legal mechanism, related to crimes of acid attack and rights of victim/survivors of crimes related to acid attack and drafting the memorandum along with legal technical inputs to finalize it. HIDR also coordinated with various civil society organizations within very short span of time for raising a collective voice to address the void on the implementation of existing laws related to acid attack related crimes and its impact.

While presenting the technical legal inputs, we urged the Minister to review and reflect whether it was necessary to bring ordinance to address the justice need of acid attack victims in the existing context as there were comprehensive laws already in place to protect the right of victims i.e., Crime Victim Protection Act, 2075 and other general laws like Muluki Criminal Code Act, 2074, which criminalizes such acts and makes punishable up to eight years. There is no legislative vacuum to protect the right of victims, but rather the absence of regulations, and action plan to implement it with adequate resources. There is no situation where an ordinance is required to take immediate action to provide justice to acid attack victim. Rather, there is scope of amendment of various laws to address the gaps in law. On the basis of these reasons, we urged the Minister to legislate the bill through a parliamentary process rather than through the ordinance. The Minister was also urged to incorporate gender transformative elements that address issues of patriarchy, and social norms that devalue girls and women, which is a deep seated issue that perpetrates acid attacks on women.  We recommended that the Bill should adopt feminist principles and approaches for establishing gender jurisprudence to deliver gender justice instead of punitive justice.

The Memorandum recommended implementing existing laws such as the Criminal Code, 2074, Crime Victim Protection Act, 2075, and the Act Related to Children, 2075 by introducing regulations and operating guidelines, rather than bringing in a new ordinance specifically on acid attack. These currently existing Acts have broad scopes that can be effectively used to address cases of acid attack as well as addressing the larger problem of lack of implementation of existing laws and subsequent pile up of new laws that do not see the light of day in reality. Rather, the memorandum recommends adding new provisions into the existing Acts, particularly the Criminal Code and the Crime Victim Protection Act.

The provisions recommended cover the issues of sentencing, controlling and monitoring the sale and purchase of acid, immediate relief and treatment for victims, and compensation to victim/family, for cases of acid attack. Apart from the recommended provisions for acid attack, the memorandum also highlights the legal and operational irregularities in the GBV Elimination Fund Regulations, and the non-establishment of the Crime Victim Relief Fund, which are crucial for addressing the rights of acid attack victims as well as victims of other gender based violence.

The Honorable Minister appreciated the concerns we brought before her and received the recommendations well. She also assured us that the Regulation for the Crime Victim Protection Act would be brought in soon to support the vital legislation for guaranteeing victims’ rights.

Image SEQ Figure \* ARABIC 1. Formally presenting the recommendations of the memorandum to the Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. In picture (from left to right) Bharati Silwal Giri (NNAGT), Dr. Shivmaya Tumbahangphe (MOLJPA), Rishi Rajbhandari (Secretary, MoLJPA), Sushila Shrestha (BBC), and Indu Tuladhar (HIDR).