Life During Monsoon Season and a Success Story at the Thai Border


This week Battambang has been very rainy, so I unfortunately do not have many non-work-related adventures to share, even though I did try to rally my co-workers into a spur of the moment trip to Bangkok when we found ourselves 1 km from the Thai border (details below).  Luckily for them, the new-found spontaneous backpacker in me gave up once I realized I didn't have my passport. Otherwise, I read a few good books (you can never go wrong with a J.K. Rowling series, even the newer Cormoran Strike detective novels), worked on 2L job applications, and enjoyed more than my fair share of nutella crepes from Ny, as per usual. Although, it is worth noting (to me at least), that I found a pizza place where I can order a really good American-style pizza, after struggling through some of the Khmai I've learned. Well, now I will definitely be getting pizza for dinner again tonight, anyway...
(here's a short clip of the flooding)


This week centered around the gathering of my second Success Story, that of a teenage client who lives at the Thai border. At 16, Vannak* (pictured below) found himself being interrogated by two police officers, in fear that if he did not provide a confession for the crimes they spoke of, he would be subjected to physical punishment at the hand of the "large officer." Out of this fear, Vannak falsely confessed to serving as as an accomplice to intentional damage to property and intentional violence – crimes which, given these particular circumstances, could warrant up to 15 years in prison and over 10 million riel ($2,000 USD) in fines. After some shuffling between the police post and the prison, Vannak was brought before a judge the morning after his arrest, who informed him of his right to a lawyer - and his mother then met with Sothea (our provincial attorney) the next day.

On the date of the alleged incident, Vannak had spent the day playing volleyball with his friend, who was willing to come forward as a witness and provide testimony regarding Vannak's whereabouts that day to the investigating judge. After Sothea presented this witness and pointed out the lack of any evidence of Vannak's involvement, the judge dismissed the charges.

Vannak sharing his story

Needless to say, Vannak's mother, who had spent each day crying because she “knew it was a mistake” and kept wondering “why they [were doing this] to her son”, was "very happy" following her young son's release. As a single mother who makes only $100 USD per month as the owner of a pharmacy, she was unable to visit Vannak because the prison was too far and she had already spent much of her income traveling to the IBJ office. Now 17, Vannak is in the process of completing 12th grade with hopes of becoming a doctor. Thankfully, false accusations and a coerced confession will no longer hold him back as he completes his education. 

Before the charges were dismissed, Vannak had spent 15 days inside the prison. I wrote previously about the conditions a minor kept in the prison here in Battambang can face in another IBJ blog post (see, and the conditions Vannak faced were very similar. He spent his days in a five by five meter cell with 20 other inmates, finding both sleep and food scarce, but able to use his mornings for exercise. Vannak felt he was lucky, as he said new prisoners were often made to stay in the bathrooms until space opened up in the cells; however, because the prison guards took a liking to him, he instead stayed in the overcrowded cell.
Me, Vannak, Vannak's Mother, Kalyan (lawyer assistant)

Pictures from lunch on the Thai border after our Success Story meeting:

Odoum (local intern)

Phearun leading the way to lunch

Fruitstand at our lunchplace

LunchLunchKalyan's son Pisat

Up Next: Visit from Ubon Ratchathani University (UBU, Thailand)'s Faculty of Law Delegation, Things Overseen the Police Station, and My Last Full Week in Battambang!

*Name changed for client's privacy.