22
Aug 2016

PLT in Cambodia

Written by Neeharika

Uninspired by your PLT prospects? What if I told you you could complete your work experience component in Cambodia? Read on for Chloe's experience at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.

1. Where did you complete your PLT? 

I am currently completing my PLT at the College of Law, and for the placement component I am working as a Legal Intern for the Office of the Co-Prosecutors in the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. It is a hybrid tribunal set up pursuant to an agreement between the Government of Cambodia and the United Nations. I work for the International side, namely the United Nations Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Tribunal (UNAKRT). It is a 6 month position (although there is a 3 month option) and it's full time, 5 days a week.  

2. How did you find out about the position and what was the application process like?

I didn't begin my position of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia with the intention of completing it as part of my PLT, as I was unsure if it was within the scope of the PLT placement requirements but subsequently realised I would be eligible. I found out about the position when I was in my final semester of law school and realised I didn't want to take the 'traditional' route of clerkships and vying for a graduate position, so I researched other options. I had developed an interest in international law and human rights law at law school and thus, I started looking at job/intern opportunities with the United Nations and NGO's and ultimately found out about UNAKRT and applied. Details about the application process can be found here.   

3. What was the highlight of your time there? 

I'm just over half way through my intership but the highlights of my time here so far have been: 

  • The opportunity to work in such a large and multi-national Tribunal, with lawyers and other interns from such a wide variety of legal and cultural backgrounds.
  • The advocacy training provided by my Office which included witness examination and cross-examination in the main courtroom of the Tribunal.
  • The opportunity to sit in court regularly and watch the hearings live and see the 'courtroom in action' up close.
  • Living overseas in Cambodia and seeing the real life, previous and ongoing effects of the Khmer Rouge Regime, and being able to use and closely tie that into the dedication and passion you put into the work you do here.

4. What was the most challenging part of the program?

The most challenging part of my internship is also the most rewarding - it's the overall experience of working in a hybrid Tribunal dealing with international criminal law and working for the Office of the Co-Prosecutors to charge the most senior and most responsible leaders of the Khmer Rouge with crimes such as murder, rape, torture, enslavement and physical violence. The crimes we deal with at the Tribunal are of such great magnitude it can be challenging to work with sometimes but as I said, it's as rewarding as it is challenging because there are so many survivors of the Khmer Rouge Regime who have applied as Civil Parties and it's a very important task of the Tribunal to correctly document the attrocities that happened under the regime.

5. What would your advice be to current PLT students on the lookout for work experience?

Just to try and think of an area you may be interested in and spend some time researching available positions everywhere and anywhere - you'd be surprised what opportunities are out there! I didn't know about UNAKRT until I starting looking specifically at working overseas in an international tribunal. Also, don't be afraid to apply - it took me at least 4 months to work up to getting the confidence to submit my application because I never thought I'd get a position with the UN, but I did and I'm very pleased to have done so. Apply for any position you want, even if you don't think you have a chance - you do!  

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