NHRI people profile: Jesuina Maria Ferreira Gomes, PDHJ
Graphic: Jesuina Maria Ferreira Gomes
Each month, we’re profiling a passionate and committed individual from one of our member institutions.
Name and job title:
Jesuina Maria Ferreira Gomes, Chairperson, Provedor for Human Rights and Justice (PDHJ) in Timor-Leste.
Could you tell us a bit about your role?
As Chairperson, my role involves protecting and promoting human rights, strengthening integrity and promoting good governance in Timor-Leste.
What do you love about your role?
The role of the PDHJ is to protect and promote the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people in Timor-Leste and to defend good governance practices in all state institutions.
This means that in many ways the Provedor gets to be the voice of voiceless. To be able to re-establish justice to victims of injustice through our work is extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Unfortunately, given the limited budget of the PDHJ and the political deadlock faced by the country during previous years, we have not been able to implement as many activities as we desire.
This year we have been able to secure sufficient budget for our educational and promotional initiatives, monitoring and recommendation, received complaints and investigation but given the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, the declaration of the State of Emergency that forced the population to go into home confinement, unfortunately we are only able to implement a few activities such as monitoring and investigation in Dili and the four regional offices.
Why did you decide to work in human rights?
The Provedor performs two different but linked mandates, namely as the National Human Rights Institution of Timor-Leste and the Ombudsman, which focuses on good governance. Within the two areas, the Provedor fulfills his/her mandate within a seven-activity approach: investigation, monitoring and recommendations (based on complaints or on the Provedor's own initiative), education and promotion, protection and prevention.
I was the Deputy Provedor for Good Governance from 2015 to 2018 and had a lot of exposure to human rights during my mandate. During this period, I came to realise the importance of good governance in protecting human rights, and how truly the two different mandates were interlinked. Therefore, it was the natural step for me to run for the Provedor’s position.
What is your proudest achievement?
The continuous strengthening of the protection and promotion of human rights and good governance, together with the development of the new strategic plan of PDHJ for 2021 to 2025; the submission of the necessary alteration of our Bylaws to Parliament this year; and the continuous positive cooperation with external institutions, even with limited resources and under the current COVID-19 pandemic, have been our proudest achievements so far.
I say “ours” because these achievements would not have been possible without a proactive leadership, teamwork and the continuous hard work from the staff to reach these goals.
What is your favourite book?
Seamless Government by Russell M. Linden.
It’s an interesting book that serves as a practical guide for those who would like to improve good governance in the public sector, which ultimately impacts human rights compliance as well.
Date: 30 July 2021
- Jesuina Maria Ferreira Gomes - Jesuina Maria Ferreira Gomes