Green MP Golriz Ghahraman is proud of her defence work during the Rwanda Tribunals, saying shooting war criminals would make prosecutors as bad as tyrants. By NZCity





Golriz Ghahraman defended war criminals in the Rwandan Tribunal but she's offended by anyone who believes that means she was defending genocide.
The Green Party MP has faced criticism over her biography on the party's website which glosses over one half of her career as a human rights lawyer with the United Nations.
The biography claims the party's newest MP, and New Zealand's first refugee MP, worked for the United Nations "putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power" while a profile in the Guardian last month said she had prosecuted some of the world's worst war criminals, leaving out her defence role.

 

Ms Ghahraman toute heureuse avec le présumé génocidaire Bikindi 

 

The revelation - made by Ms Ghahraman herself in interviews - has led to calls for her resignation. "Call me old fashioned, but I think volunteering as a 'life changing experience' to defend mass murderers (who had the priciest lawyers in the business) should disqualify one from becoming a member of the NZ Parliament," tweeted Phil Quin, a former Labour staffer who lived for several years in Rwanda.
Ms Ghahraman has admitted the biography could be clearer but said she's not afraid of talking about that part of her career and will look to have it clarified.
"I'm very proud of having done both sides, as have most lawyers in the UN system, because of the understanding of the need to be fair and transparent so verdicts are safe," she told NZ Newswire on Monday night.
"Otherwise you just take them out back and shoot them and you're just as bad as the tyrants."
Ms Ghahraman can see a stigma may exist in New Zealand and that people might think less of her for her defence work, but she hopes most would realise she's defending a fair legal system and not a war criminal.
"To say someone involved in a process of justice ... is defending genocide, it actually is really offensive," she said.
A human rights lawyer, Ms Ghahraman volunteered for both prosecution and defence teams within the United Nations in Rwanda.