Colombia Introduces 12 To 50 Years Imprisonment For Acid Attacks

Colombia Introduces 12 To 50 Years Imprisonment For Acid Attacks

The Colombian Senate has passed a law which will impose a harsher sentence of 12 to 15 years in prison on people who have committed acid attacks.

In view of the law, anyone convicted of harming another with a chemical agent will now serve the harsh punishment of 12 and 50 years in prison.

The law is named after Natalia Ponce, who was severely disfigured by an acid attack in March 2014. Under the new law, those who "use any type of chemical agent" to hurt someone will be jailed for between 12 and 20 years, but the sentence can increase to up to 50 years in prison for those who permanently disfigure their victim.

Acid attacks so far fell under the category of physical aggression, such as beatings, and sentences were relatively short.The new law will come into force as soon as it is signed by President Juan Manuel Santos, who has already expressed his support.

In her response, Ms Ponce thanked the legislature for pushing the law through.

Ms Ponce had acid thrown into her face by a neighbour causing burns to almost a third of her body. The neighbour, Jonathan Vega, had become obsessed with her and plotted the attack after she had rejected his advances. He was arrested shortly after the attack. His trial is currently held up by his refusal to undergo a psychiatric exam.

Ms Ponce has since become a campaigner for the rights of acid attack victims. Her story has been published into a book by journalist Martha Soto. The book is entitled ‘The Rebirth of Natalia Ponce’.

Ms Ponce has since had 20 operations and is scheduled to have more to reconstruct the parts of her body which were burned by sulphuric acid.

According to Ms Ponce, the number of acid attacks in Colombia per inhabitant is higher than in countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. In Colombia, an estimated 100 people per year are attacked with acid, but so far only a handful of perpetrators have been convicted.

 

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