In partnership with the Singapore Cooperation Programme (SCP), IBJ’s Singapore Justice Training Centre delivered a criminal justice standards and skills training in Vientiane, Laos from December 12-16, 2011. Their first training outside Singapore.
Participants with IBJ trainers and H.E. Dileep Nair, Singapore Ambassador to Laos
Kellie Krake, IBJ’s Training Director, and Sanjeewa Liyanage, IBJ’s International Program Director, led the training. They were joined by volunteer trainers Wendell Wong, a Dispute Resolution Director of Drew & Napier in Singaporeand Larisa Wakefield, an attorney and trainer from the Orange County Public Defender’s Office in California, The goal of the event was to train the Laos criminal justice community in trial advocacy skills, criminal procedure and substantive criminal law, public speaking, oral presentation skills, negotiation, criminal justice trends, leadership development in criminal justice systems and partnership building.
Officials from the Ministry of Public Security, The Office of the Supreme People’s Prosecutor, The People’s Supreme Court, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of National Defense, and The People’s Appellate Court attended. These participants practice various areas of criminal justice fighting a range of crimes – from investigation to prosecution to adjudication, and in relation to drug, economic, environmental, and human trafficking offenses. Judges from the Military, Supreme and Appellate Courts were all present, as well as two lawyers from legal firms inside the Ministry of Justice.
The week-long training centered on a hypothetical case study that focused on telling the story of an alleged crime from the accused person’s perspective. This perspective offered a stimulating role reversal for the majority of participants who are investigators and prosecutors in the Laos criminal justice system. A dynamic mix of lectures, small-group workshops and discussions allowed the participants to practice their advocacy skills through public speaking and oral presentation. At the conclusion of the training, the participants conducted a mock trial based on the hypothetical case study.
The training began with an opening ceremony and welcome speeches from Mr. Tay Lai Huat, Second Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Singapore, Kellie and Sanjeewa. The first day focused on international law, the ‘global community’ and an overview of criminal law in Laos regarding the rights of the accused and role of defense counsel. On the second and third days, Wendell Wong and Larisa Wakefield kindly donated their time to join Kellie to train participants on theme and theory development, effective cross-examination and direct examination skills, Despite the differences in the judicial systems of Laos and Singapore/the US, the participants enthusiastically practiced the art of cross-examination in small groups and on their colleagues!
Wendell Wong leads workshop with participants
The final two days of the training focused on preparing for the mock trial, as well as continuing to discuss the role of defense counsel and rights of the accused. During a discussion session with Kellie and Larisa, the participants asked about the role of defense counsel in the US and focused questions on the confidentiality provisions.
Participants practice cross-examination skills
By Friday, the participants were ready for the mock trial. They broke into two teams, prosecution and defense, and also filled the roles of witnesses. The trial opened with statements detailing the stories of the complaining witness and accused. Participants directed and crossed the witnesses, demonstrating their abilities learned from practice earlier in the week. Despite an impassioned closing argument delivered by the prosecution team, the judge found the accused not guilty.
The Ambassador from Singapore closed the training event with a brief speech and certificate ceremony. The participants enthusiastically posed for photographs with the trainers and each other, sharing gifts, name cards and promises to stay in touch and keep learning in the future.
The SCP is the premier technical assistance programme administered by the Technical Cooperation Directorate of the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs.