Nationality

Portugal

Education

Postgraduate Degree in National Defense, Instituto da Defesa Nacional, Lisbon,
Portugal

Bachelor's Degree in Law, Portucalense University Infante D. Henrique, Porto, Portugal

Languages

English, French, Portuguese and Spanish

Twelve years ago I was the senior partner in my own law firm in Portugal, and also worked as a Legal Officer with the Portuguese Armed Forces. Something changed in 1999 when I saw on television the violence which erupted in Timor-Leste after the referendum for independence. Timor-Leste was once a Portuguese colony, thus I felt a strong sense of connection with the people there. I soon applied for a job with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and was eventually deployed in Timor-Leste as a Protection Officer.

As a Protection Officer, my task was to protect the rights of refugees, including families who had been separated while fleeing violence. This often involved reuniting children with their parents. I have a 10-year-old daughter who means the world to me, so I knew just how much this work mattered. It was that sense of bettering people’s lives that was missing from my career before I started work with the United Nations. Participating in the birth of a new country was an experience I’ll never forget.

Since then, I’ve worked for the Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), and as a Special Assistant to the Chief Justice of the Court of Appeal with the United Nations Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). Now I’m on my most challenging assignment yet, with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Guinea Bissau.

UNODC works around the world fighting human trafficking, money laundering, piracy and terrorism. In west Africa, we focus on two of UNODC’s most important mandates; transnational crime and drug trafficking.

Decades of civil war increased Guinea Bissau’s vulnerability to international criminal cartels, who used it as a drop-off point for smuggling drugs from South America to Europe, and from Asia to North America. The county’s weak law enforcement agencies were not financially equipped to conduct arrests or detain drug traffickers, so when we arrived, the United Nations had to start by rebuilding the justice system almost from scratch.

I am currently involved in the rehabilitation of Guinea Bissau’s first prisons. This job includes everything from training guards, to collaborating with the Ministry of Justice, local police and Interpol on how to ensure the rule of law. My mission here is to help innocent people lead safer lives. I have a deep respect for the resilience of the people of Guinea Bissau, and their resolve strengths my own. At the United Nations the most challenging work is often the most rewarding, so I don’t mind the long hours. Besides, it’s easy to relax. I love traveling, and being with the Organization has let me indulge that passion for exploring… my love of fishing. After almost 20 years of trying, in the archipelago of Bijagós off the coast of Guinea Bissau, I caught a fish for the first time. It was such a wonderful surprise; I’ve always been better at catching criminals.

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