Work Work Work!


This week I have been working on a long-term assignment from the Phnom Penh office, which focuses on drafting a fact sheet containing statistics and summaries on almost all aspects of the legal system here and the human rights abuses which still ail it. The goals of this assignment are to both create a document which IBJ can reference for anything from reports to the UN, to grant proposals, etc and have citations on hand to back it up (I guess I owe a thanks to JJC for that!). 
As I researched this sort of information for my assignment, I came across stories of the types of abuses I have already witnessed first-hand while working here in Battambang. The corruption of the system itself is something the offices here face already on a daily basis, as court officials and officers repeatedly attempt to secure bribes in return for a reasonable delivery time of court documents and other paperwork. Clients repeatedly tell us stories of officers seeking bribes, and a few assume that offering us money is necessary to secure legal assistance. It can be quite discouraging at times, but in provinces where IBJ maintains an office, our lawyers have seen drastic improvement as they have built relationships with both officials and the Ministry of Justice and repeatedly challenged these policies over the years. 

Life & Travel

After my Khmai class on Saturday, I decided to spend the day exploring the countryside and a few of the attractions I have not yet visited here in Battambang. I met up with Odom, the tuk-tuk driver who had taken me all around Battambang one of the first weekends I was here, and we started off on our journey. First, we stopped by an area of town where families manufacture rice paper to see the process and the hundreds of pieces of rice paper laying out to dry. Here are some photos I took of the surprisingly swift process below. 

                               Making Rice PaperRice Paper Rows

                               Dry Rice PaperRice Paper Bin

After that, we headed to Wat Ek Phnom - an 11th century temple located just outside of Battambang. I always love visiting the temples here, and there was a beautiful pagoda and ginormous statue of Buddha located on the grounds as well.

Wat Ek PhnomWat Ek Phnom 2Temple at Wat Ek PhnomTemple Detail

Giant Buddha

Against my better judgment, I let Odom convince me to then head over to the fish market next - luckily a quick drive through the drying fish filets, which can apparently be kept for up to a year before eating, was enough for both of us. 

BTB Fish Market

We ended our day at Wat Samraong Knong (which translates to the Wat in the Forest). This temple was built in the 1700s and used by the Khmer Rouge as both a prison and an execution site. Next to the temple stands a recently built pagoda, and a memorial to those killed there - yet another reminder of the atrocities the Cambodian people endured during the not so long ago Khmer Rouge reign.

Wat SamrongTemple

Sorry for the short post, but we have been quite busy over here at IBJ! All in all, the longer I'm here, the more I feel at home in Cambodia. It is an absolutely wonderful country with so much to offer and I can't believe my time here is already half way over. Next week I get to visit some parts of Cambodia where I haven't yet been, so I'll try to be more thorough in my next post!

Up Next: Headed to the Pailin Court, Lunch with Local Prosecutors and Judges & July 4th at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh!