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Colombia toughens stance against acid attacks

[JURIST] Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos on Monday enacted [El Colombiano report, in Spanish] the Natalia Ponce Law, establishing acid attacks as a specific crime with harsh punishments. The punishments under the new law between 12 to 20 years in prison for a "simple" attack and between 20 to 30 years in prison for an attack that causes disfigurement or permanent injury to the victim, with punishment increased in cases with disfigurement of the face, against those who commit such crimes against minors and attacks that resulted in death. The law also gives the government six months to design and implement a public policy that ensures comprehensive medical and psychological care to victims of such attacks. Corrosive substances used in such attacks will also be included in a law prohibiting the creation, possession and traffic of dangerous substances in order to address all levels of criminal behavior relating to acid attacks. The country has seen 222 cases [The Jakarta Post report] of acid attacks since 2013.

Acid attacks are defined [advocacy website] as the deliberate use of acid to attack another human being. Such attacks are a worldwide phenomenon that are not restricted to a particular race, religion or geographical location. The leading cause of attacks is the availability of acids, and women form the majority of victims. In November, a Russian national suffered [BBC report] an acid attack in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, and according to official statistics, there are "a few hundred" acid attacks in India every year. Other forms of irregular warfare have been condemned recently, as last week, the UN labeled [JURIST report] forced starvation in Syria a war crime.

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