Life & Travel
I cannot believe this past week was my last full week in BTB! I will be returning to Phnom Penh next Thursday, where I will work out of IBJ HQ until August 8th. I have absolutely fallen in love with Battambang and have made some truly great friends in my co-workers, who were kind enough to throw me a farewell party on Friday. They surprised me with a trip to my new favorite place - The Pizza Company, followed by some ice cream, and finally - Khmai Karaoke at a local disco. Later in the weekend I had a chance to visit one of the biggest tourist attractions here in Battambang the Phare Ponleu Selpak circus. The circus as well as the accompanying schools for visual, music, and circus are run by a local NGO that instructs Cambodian kids and young adults in these arts. The experience was wonderful (I'll include some videos below), as the circus incorporated a story line into the circus acts, and I was also able to visit an art gallery where I picked up a small watercolor painting. At the end of the show they announced that two of the students (ages 18 and 19) had been accepted into a renowned circus school in Quebec Canada - pretty cool stuff.
Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS) Circus
I've been trying to savor work this week, and honestly could not have better memories to look back on once I've left Battambang. As all the necessary meetings have taken place, we are in the last phase of the Case Management System project. The categories have been finalized and relate to information regarding verdicts, types of evidence used in trials, at what stage the client was referred to our organization, etc. In order to mainline the system Rosemary and I are now working on the final stage of producing Guidelines for the system (kind of like a handbook), where we explain every category and the relevant criminal procedure, as well as examples and explanations of answer choices. For example, in the "Evidence Used" category there are many types of evidence which can be used as outlined by the criminal code. Each of them are listed as options to pick from in the database (i.e. Material Evidence, Witness Testimony, Expert Testimony). What Rosemary and I are working on is drawing from Cambodian law and international standards to define and explain each category so that the lawyer assistant and office assistants can have a better understanding of how to correctly fill in the CMS. Eng, a Cambodian intern in the Phnom Penh Office, will be translating the Guidelines into Khmai so that even less will be lost in translation (literally).
On Wednesday I was able to participate in a great event. Earlier in the day, a Delegation from the Faculty of Law at Ubon Ratchathani University (UBU) in Thailand that included Deans, Lawyers, and 20 students were given a tour of the Battambang Provincial Court complex where I work. Later in the afternoon, Sothea (IBJ lawyer) and Kalyan (IBJ lawyer assistant) were heading to meet the Delegation at the University of Battambang (UBB) to discuss IBJ's work and Cambodia's Justice system and invited me to listen in - or so I thought. Unexpectedly, I was seated with the panel and somehow became part of it. Luckily, Sothea fielded most of the questions and because I have been working here for quite awhile, I feel quite acquainted with Cambodia's justice system and so I was pretty comfortable in front of the Delegation. The exchange was very interesting, as we discussed Cambodia's legal aid system compared to that of Thailand, how our organization attempts to build relationships with legal authorities, pre-trial detention, case statistics, and outreach programs aimed at increasing legal awareness - like our Street Law programs. The UBU Delegation was incredibly impressive, and I was honored to speak with them, meet the students, and learn about Thailand's legal system, as well as their law school. Afterwards, we posed for a few photos which I've included below:
University of Battambang Campus
Up Next: Case Management Training Leads to Round Two on the Bamboo Train + Back to Phnom Penh, and VIETNAM Weekend!