2010 Asia JusticeMakers Oanh Hoang Ngo (Vietnam) and Nana Chapidze (Georgia) speaking at August 2010 training in Singapore

Vietnamese Justicemaker 2010 Oanh Hoang Ngo recently received a prestigious fellowship to continue the work that she began last year with her JusticeMakers project. Oanh has been awarded a PILnet International Fellowship for 2011-2012, which she will use to support her goal of building a Child Advocacy Centre in Vietnam’s Judicial Academy.

Oanh’s JM project involves improving access to counsel for the indigent accused and juvenile offenders. Primarily, she has focused on conducting skills training courses in order to improve the professional capacity of Vietnamese lawyers. These courses have been conducted by legal academics and child psychologists, and were complemented with seminars and discussions led by authorities in these fields. Attendees leave Oanh’s sessions with an understanding of innovative and comprehensive approaches to juvenile justice, and with the knowledge necessary to contribute to the reformation of Vietnam’s justice system. As a part of her project, Oanh has also been providing legal assistance for indigent juveniles with the help of young lawyers being trained in Hanoi’s Judicial Academy. She has also been marshalling resources to establish a charitable fund to finance legal representation for detainees who cannot afford it.

Oanh’s JM project has enjoyed considerable institutional support from the Judicial Academy and different local Bar Associations, and provided a solid foundation for what she intends to achieve with her PILnet Fellowship. By establishing a Child Advocacy Centre at the Judicial Academy in Hanoi, Oanh can ensure that Vietnamese criminal lawyers are well-versed in the principles of comprehensive juvenile justice and that underprivileged youths who find themselves in conflict with the law have greater access to legal advice and representation.

The PILnet Fellowship begins in Fall 2011, with a semester of study at Columbia University Law School in New York City. Here, Fellows will audit courses in law and human rights. Oanh will spend her time studying aspects of the US legal system, especially as they compare to aspects of Vietnamese law and the more specific instances of her project. Simultaneously to her study, she will spend three months interning at a human rights or legal services organization.

In 2012, Oanh will spend two months at PILnet’s office in Budapest, Hungary, where she will learn about comparable juvenile justice institutions in Europe. She will have the ability to travel to various European countries and conduct site visits to courts, NGOs and government offices.

This fellowship will enable Oanh to build networks with volunteer lawyers from various law firms in developed countries, who will be able to aid her in legal research and provide advice in support of her goal to establish a Child Advocacy Centre in Vietnam’s Judicial Academy.

The practical knowledge that Oanh has gained as a JusticeMaker—combined with the international experience she will gain as a PILnet Fellow—will continue to make her an important player in the reformation of Vietnam’s juvenile justice system. IBJ wishes Oanh success in her next venture.