Dr. Carolyn Gomes, Human Rights Crusader

Dr. Carolyn Gomes was recently announced as a recipient of the prestigious United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights for 2008. Gomes is among seven awardees to be honored at the plenary session of the General Assembly at United Nations Headquarters in New York on Human Rights Day, December 10.

In announcing the winners, UN General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto Brockman stated, “As we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we acknowledge the tireless work and invaluable contribution of these individuals and organisations that have fought to see the rights and freedoms embodied in this historic document become a reality for people in all corners of the world.”

Gomes is co-founder and Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice since November 2002. The organization “defends the human rights of marginalized and vulnerable groups against all forms of violence, supports victims to seek redress through the judicial system and advocates for their protection,” and through her tenacity, vision and leadership, it has become a formidable human rights advocacy group in Jamaica, advancing the cause of human rights on the island through collaboration with local and international agencies.

Joining Dr. Gomes in receiving this award are Louise Arbour, Ramsey Clarke, Denis Mukwege, Human Rights Watch, with posthumous awards to Benazir Bhutto and Sr. Dorothy Stang. Past recipients include Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, Jimmy Carter, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Reverend Dr. Martin L. King Jr.

The Human Rights Prize is awarded every five years, in accordance with a resolution of the General Assembly adopted in 1966. The prize was first awarded on December 10, 1968, the International Year for Human Rights and the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Gomes, a graduate of the UWI and alumna of St. Hugh’s high in Kingston, is a paediatrician who has found her life’s purpose as a fearless crusader advocating on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.

Asked by Abeng News what stirs her to continue the fight, Gomes went to the heart of the matter. “As to what keeps me going – innate cussedness and the courage of the mothers and sisters and brothers like Millicent Forbes and Monica Williams and Leonard Smith and Karen Coombs and Mr. Henry and Paulette Rose – too many to name, who need and deserve justice.”

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