Green MP Golriz Ghahraman worked as a lawyer for the Rwanda tribunals.
That sounds admirable and worthy work doesn’t it?
Would it sound as admirable and worthy if it was clear she was not working for the prosecution to indict those accused of genocide but for the defence to clear them?
Good defence is an integral part of fair justice and that requires defence lawyers. There’s nothing wrong with being one of those.
But it is wrong to hide the fact and give a very strong impression that she was working for the prosecution, as she did elsewhere, not the defence.
Over at Kiwiblog David Farrar writes:
Now I had no idea before reading this article that her work in Rwanda was defending the war criminals, not prosecuting them. I doubt anyone else knew either. Let’s look at what her Green Party CV says:
Her studies at Oxford, and work as a lawyer for the United Nations and in New Zealand, have focused on enforcing human rights and holding governments to account. Golriz has lived and worked in Africa, The Hague and Cambodia putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power, and restoring communities after war and human rights atrocities, particularly empowering women engaged in peace and justice initiatives.
Now 99% of people who read that would think she was working at prosecuting the abusers, not defending them.
Look at this Guardian article from a few weeks ago:
It was in this South Pacific melting pot, says Ghahraman, that she acquired the confidence to study human rights law at Oxford University, and, later, to stand up in court representing the UN in tribunals prosecuting some of the world’s worst war criminals, including perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
Now again 99% of people reading this would assume she was prosecuting in Rwanda. But she was actually defending the perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide.
Former Labour staffer Phil Quin has actually worked in Rwanda with the survivors of the genocide there. He is highly unimpressed:
Quin has lots of texts including this one:
.@golrizghahraman to be clear, the human rights that preoccupied you were those of some of the worst mass murderers in history. What about the rights of thousands of women with children born of rape; countless orphans; friends that lost entire families; 800,000 dead.
Everyone deserves a defense, but please don’t preen as a human rights advocates when you dedicated a year to keeping these killers from justice. And defense underfunded?? Don’t make me laugh. ICTR spent 500m defending these guys.
The wrong-doing isn’t that Ghahraman defended people accused of genocide.
It’s the selective use of information to give the impression that she worked for the prosecution.
It’s not what she did but the impression she and her party gave of what she did that’s created the controversy.
At the very best this was a lie by omission from the Green Party and MP.
Imagine the uproar from the left if a National or Act MP did work like this, let alone gave an altogether different impression of the work.