Lyma Nguyen travelled to Cambodia, France, Germany and the Netherlands to build expertise in the practice of international criminal justice by examining the operation of international courts and preparing victim representation in a genocide trial before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
The establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), to try those individually criminally responsible for atrocity crimes is a result of agreement from the international community that fundamental human rights and freedoms require mechanisms for their protection, operating both domestically and internationally. Australia has recognised the importance of these mechanisms, through membership to the ICC Rome Statute – the treaty establishing the international criminal court – and ultimately through its ratification and implementation of the treaty, through the incorporation into domestic laws of “international” crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Lyma conducted a two-month investigation mission in The Hague, Paris, Berlin and Cambodia to study this on the international, non-governmental and in-country levels. She engaged in professional exchanges with practitioners at The Hague (international-level), Germany and France (non-governmental-level) and Cambodia (country-level), as well as observed international criminal litigation at the International Criminal Court, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. She further developed her capacities through a specialised course: “Advocacy and Litigation before International Courts and Tribunals”, held at the Universiteit Leiden at The Hague, at which she was awarded “Best Advocate”. As part of her Churchill journey, she also prepared Civil Parties who are to testify at the upcoming trial segment on the ethnic Vietnamese genocide in Case 002/02 before the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.
These experiences provided valuable insight from multiple perspectives about practice of international criminal justice. For example, her meetings in Europe provided key insights from the experience of European countries into the development of specialised prosecutorial and investigative units to meet the ‘complementarity protection’ mandate under the Rome Statute. This is important to bring back to Australia, because, although Australia has legislated to make international crimes into domestic offences under the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth), Australia has not yet taken steps to build the necessary procedural capacities to try war criminals before its domestic courts.