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Iris Colvin Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
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Nominated by Soroptimist International Bangor & accepted by Teresa Doherty.


Teresa Doherty started work in 1964as a civil servant in the Board of Trade in London.   After a brief period of teaching in Zambia, she returned to study and qualified in law before moving in 1976 to the Public Defender’s Office in Papua New Guinea. 

While there, she held many positions from Provincial Legal Officer to Principal Magistrate and finally became a Judge of the National and Supreme Courts in 1988.She was the first woman judge in the south Pacific Island region

In 1998 she returned as a Barrister-at-Law in Northern Ireland but only for a short period as by 2003 she was appointed Judge of the High Court and Appeal Court of Sierra Leone at the request of the Commonwealth following the civil war there. In 2005 she was appointed by the United Nations as a judge of the international war crimes tribunal (Special Court for Sierra Leone). Her judgement on forced marriage is the first international recognition of this crime. Her court was the first to convict for use of child soldiers and a sitting Head of State.  She continues to fulfil some legal duties in Sierra Leone.  

Throughout her Professional career, Teresa has been an advocate for women’s rights and equality – she has fought tirelessly against oppression and violence against women in many parts of the world and is seen to be a leading authority in this area. She is held in high esteem and her voluntary consultancy work with women prisoners, victims of domestic abuse, human rights abuses and those unlawfully convicted has undoubtedly changed how women and children are treated in legal systems all across the world. She has been described as “an impressive model of fair and impartial justice who made an enormously positive contribution to domestic justice.”

Teresa’s voluntary work has also been very impressive with a huge amount of work helping those less fortunate than her to deal with legal matters including issues of domestic violence, sexual violence, oppressive prison regimes and representing those who could not afford lawyers.

In all of these instances and examples, Teresa has demonstrated her commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of women and children often at personal inconvenience and sometimes at risk to herself. Time and again the examples of her compassion and commitment are far beyond the remit of her paid employment and show her true dedication to improving the lives of others where possible. She is an inspirational person who rightly deserves to be recognised for her achievements.



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