Lyma Nguyen, Cambodia

During the 1970s the Khmer Rouge ravaged the population of Cambodia in a brutal regime of social engineering and genocide. Thirty-one years later, ANU graduate law student, Lyma Nguyen, is finding that the path to justice is difficult.

Lyma Nguyen grew up in Brisbane, studied at the University of Queensland and worked in Brisbane, Canberra and Darwin before going on a Lawyers Beyond Borders assignment to Pnomh Penh and other locations in Cambodia with Australian Volunteers International.

Lyma works with Legal Aid Cambodia (LAC) and works as an International Civil Party Lawyer as part of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

Lyma’s nine-month assignment with AVI started in June 2010 and she’s part of the LBB network. She’s already conducting legal research, undertaking factual analysis, evidentiary assessment, and drafting legal submissions.

From 1975-1979, Cambodia’s legal system was completely destroyed.  Prosecutors, legislators, lawyers and judges were executed by the Khmer Rouge or perished as a result of starvation, disease or forced labor. To this day, Cambodia faces a severe shortage of lawyers and trained professionals that can provide legal services to the indigent. Recognizing this need, LAC was launched as a Khmer-run initiative to provide legal services for the poor.

In December 1995, LAC opened its offices to provide professional legal services for the poor in both civil and criminal matters through its main office in the capital Phnom Penh and through its eight permanent provincial offices.

Together with the Lyma’s national civil party co-lawyer, NY Chandy, from LAC, Lyma has been assisting victims who lost family members through Khmer Rouge policies against foreign nationals.

She’s also representing Khmers in mixed marriages who lost their Vietnamese spouses or family members, as well as non Vietnamese who suffered crimes.

For more information about LAC visit

Reproduced with the permission of Australian Volunteers International

© 2012 Australian Volunteers International

The Australian Government is working in partnership to send Australian volunteers overseas through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program

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