The Faculty of Law and Political Science of the National University of Laos in Vientiane is holding the National Court Competition in International Humanitarian Law in November 2014.
A Moot court is an educational activity wherein students take part in simulated court proceedings. Students write briefs and make oral arguments. For the second time now such an event was staged at the Faculty, which recently started a Moot Court Group. It is also one out of thirteen student educational activity groups created to provide venues for more practical skills training for law students.
Promoting the creation of Student Educational Activities Groups (SEAG) is a brainchild of project LAO/023: Strengthening the Rule of Law Through Legal University Education, at the National University of Laos. SEAG has the full support of the Faculty, which has received praise from the University and recognition from various communities based on the activities of these student groups.
Two students from the Faculty, Mr. Yee Chang Chongseng and Mr. Khemphet Phonphakdy, make up one of the four teams from the Faculty taking part in this year’s competition. Yee Chang is 22 years old, from Xieng Khouang Province in the north. He is a member of the H’mong minority population of Laos and is also the head of the Moot Court Group. He is in his third year at the International Relations Department and is supported by an Australian scholarship, which provides him with a 50 USD monthly stipend. He observed: “Most of the Moot Court Group members are H’mong and all of us want to become lawyers. Already we feel we have become better students. We ask more questions and we read a lot more. International Humanitarian Law is useful for all.”
Khamphet, also 22 years old, is from Salavanh Province in Southern Laos and a member of the majority Lao Loum population. He is a third-year student in the Criminal Law Department, has studied French, and works evenings as a hotel receptionist. He had this to say about the Moot Court Group: “Many people from my province end up working in neighbouring Thailand. Human trafficking is an issue and so is the lack of legal awareness. I joined the Moot Court Group because I want to be a lawyer. I want to work with people who get into trouble with the law and have no access to the justice system.”
Only a few years ago the idea of Lao law students participating in a Moot court competition, in English, would have been far-fetched. However, in March 2014, three students selected from the Faculty participated in the 12th Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot in Hong Kong. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) supported the event and also organizes annual seminars in International Humanitarian Law for students and faculty members in conjunction with the Faculty. This year’s winners of the National Moot Court Competition will compete in an international Moot in 2015 (sponsored by ICRC).
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