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Right loses its shit after former criminal lawyer discovered to have acted for bad people

Written By: - Date published: 11:40 am, November 28th, 2017 - 85 comments
Categories: Africa, corruption, Deep stuff, International, Politics, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, war, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags: ,

It is going to be a long three years if the events of the past 24 hours are anything to go by.  The right have leapt into shock horror mode and proclaimed that SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT IN VERY LOUD VOICES because former Criminal lawyer and current Green MP Golriz Ghahraman has in the past acted for VERY BAD PEOPLE.  And may have volunteered to help lawyers involved in the Rwanda Law Crimes Court to get experience in the field of human rights.

And the source of this scoop?  Something Golriz said herself.  In the Herald yesterday she was quoted as saying:

And even with the UN, defence lawyers didn’t have as many resources as the other side. To me it’s important to have that fair process. No matter how guilty someone looks, guilt needs to be established. But the defence team didn’t get paper for the photocopiers — it was like even the UN didn’t really believe in it.

From back here, having worked in court, I know the defence gets about half the resources of the prosecution. That’s really frightening — there’s definitely demographics involved.

Then in lept former Labour staffer Phil Quin with these pearls of wisdom:

https://twitter.com/philquin/status/934934703337103360

https://twitter.com/philquin/status/935138088795430912

https://twitter.com/philquin/status/934959405468127233

It is such a strange assertion, that lawyers acting for bad people must somehow believe everything that the bad people believe in.

There are plenty of others to match this level of breathless indignation.  The phrase “pile in” springs immediately to mind.

Although some of the responses were appropriate:

https://twitter.com/JGreenbrookHeld/status/935247910890913792

https://twitter.com/teJoshuaJames/status/935246125522546688

Andrew Geddes has a typically more nuanced take on the issue:

There’s a popular narrative around human rights. In this story, there is the good side and the bad side. The good side are those who stand up and fight for the rights of the oppressed. The bad side are those who do the oppressing.

It is the Rebel Alliance against the Empire. William Wallace facing down the English invaders. Smith in the bush, resisting Volkner’s neo-fascist enforcers.

One problem with this narrative is that the actual way human rights issues are dealt with in international legal fora involves a lot less heroic action and a lot more paperwork. That fact is not accidental. The basic aim of the international human rights project is to create binding standards of behaviour that then can be enforced through institutions which command the respect and voluntary obedience of all state actors.

In a nutshell, it tries through sheer dint of process and protocol to turn the fierce moral urgency of “you should respect rights” into “you will respect rights”. The Death Star isn’t really destroyed by two proton torpedoes; it’s slowly transformed into the Nice Star by pan-galactic accords requiring minimal standards of respectful treatment for the diverse stellar civilisations as developed by inter-species committees and overseen through quasi-judicial processes for resolving disputes over the application of those standards.

I think it’s this gap between what we imagine when we hear “international human rights lawyer” and what that job actually entails that led to Golriz Ghahraman hitting the interweb yesterday. For those of you who missed it, there was some shock—shock!—expressed at the news that her past work experience involved spending some time on the defence team for an individual facing war crimes charges in Rwanda.

The charges against her rely on her CV on the Green party website which contains this passage:

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.

The two comments I would have about this is that it is clearly written by a PR person and not by Golriz herself.  No lawyer would use this sort of language!  And as Geddis states enforcing human rights means contributing to the justice system and dealing with alleged war criminals in a properly functioning justice system is an important aspect of this.  Besides Golriz clearly did a lot of prosecutorial work.

The overwhelming feeling I get of this is one big beatup fostered by a dissident former Labour staffer and the usual forces on the right relying on a short slightly sloppily drafted piece of PR.  Looks like the forces of dirty politics are on the rise again.

Update:

So she was hiding her background was she?

85 comments on “Right loses its shit after former criminal lawyer discovered to have acted for bad people”

  1. Tuppence Shrewsbury 1

    the general lack of honesty in this government over such minor details right from the get go is going to cause issues down the track. Who cares if the PR person wrote the passage? Any MP worth their salt should check what goes out in their name

    [lprent: The actual paragraph was

    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.

    That’s it. Short eh?

    That neither said that she was helping to bring world leaders to trial as a prosecutor nor as a defense. It did inform that this was part of a process.

    Judgment: Reading your statement you clearly didn’t read it. I think that you are just being a dumbarse parrot troll. You also didn’t offer a defense and obviously don’t like due process. That makes it easy. 1 month ban. ]

    • mickysavage 1.1

      What is written is not wrong. And there may be a billion sentences written by parties about themselves on the web. Are you saying that if every single one is not pristine then this is evidence of corruption and lying?

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        if every single one is not pristine

        …and comprehensive. In three hundred words or less fewer.
        Goddamn Stannis.

    • greywarshark 1.2

      One wonders if Tuppence Shrewbury and other RWs have actually crossed the educational Peters Principle line, ie they have used the sum of their learning and egos to rise above their level of wisdom and reached their respective levels of incompetence.

      • lprent 1.2.1

        Nah. They were just not thinking about how they’d like to be treated themselves in a judicial process.

        I was happy to demonstrate the downsides.

    • weka 1.3

      Take a look at Joyce’s bio. Any mention of the National government’s Minister of Finance failing his economics papers at uni? No, that’s because political party bios are about presenting their MPs a good light.

      They didn’t lie and the information about Ghahraman’s career has been in the public domain for anyone to see long before this stupid shit broke out. She’s done interviews on her career. What is happening in the past 24 hours is a beat up.

      • cleangreen 1.3.1

        Hi weka,

        I reckon it goes something like this here;

        What we are witnessing is sometimes called “manufactured public discontent’ now being perpertrated by a very ‘bitter broken national party’ now, as they dearly are trying to fracture this newly formed Labour coalition government as quickly as possible as they are seeing the national party poll ratings are now in freefall.

        • weka 1.3.1.1

          I used that term in the Thank-you Golriz post 🙂

        • Frank Macskasy 1.3.1.2

          Indeed, CG.

          And the best way to counter it is by hitting back. This cannot be allowed to stand.

          • Ed 1.3.1.2.1

            The government must go on the front foot.

            • DoublePlusGood 1.3.1.2.1.1

              (The Greens are not technically The Government)

              • weka

                (I think they are. How do you explain Ministers that aren’t part of government?).

                • DoublePlusGood

                  (Buggered if I know – but they aren’t in the governing coalition, they’re just providing confidence and supply. So they sort of are? It is weird)

                  • solkta

                    (They have Ministers of the Crown and therefore are part of the gummint as the gummint is the executive wing of the Crown. They are doing more than just giving confidence and supply as the have an agreement that covers significant policy and an active role in implementing that policy).

    • Baba Yaga 1.4

      LPrent

      I understand these are comments written by others about Golriz, not by Golriz, but you need to surely consider how a reasonable person would read the following statement:

      “Golriz has lived and worked in Africa, The Hague and Cambodia putting on trial world leaders for abusing their power”

      I submit that the words ‘putting on trial’ are best construed as being part of the prosecution, and that to suggest they refer to a defence lawyer is just stretching the bounds of credibility beyond breaking point.

      • Psycho Milt 1.4.1

        The defence lawyers are part of the trial process. But sure, the sentence is ambiguous – if you had that and some evidence Golriz Ghahraman hadn’t been completely open about the fact that she’d been working for the defence in some of those cases, why, there might be some trivial issue there you could whine about to no useful purpose.

        However, given that the evidence is that Golriz Ghahraman has been completely open about working as a defence lawyer, what you’ve actually got is a dirty politics smear. Believe me, no-one, but no-one, here is surprised to see you peddling it.

      • lprent 1.4.2

        Nope. Defense is an integral part of any reasonable court process. It is damn near the first thing ever taught in any civics or law class. Essentially all trial systems have a three cornered pyramid. Judge, defense, and prosecution.

        All three parts plus a precedence operation have to be present in any legal system that learns and grows with its society.

        The explanation that you are describing is autocracy or lynch justice.

        Admitted that it appears to be the norm among the howling barbarians of the Kiwiblog sewer. But they also appear to be pretty incompetent at understanding anything more sophisticated than “ug”

      • Ed 1.4.3

        Dirty sewer politics not needed here.

      • Kate 1.4.4

        Have we any evidence that she was either given notice that that paragraph was being put up online, or that she had oversight of it at all? No. People can’t be responsible for what others may write about them. The fault here is most likely to be with the party, for not properly fact checking profiles.

  2. lprent 2

    I will be happy to provide a demonstration of arbitrary judgement without a defense and due process to anyone who cares to make a statement without an argument supporting it.

    Not a good place to be a trolling parrot..

  3. Bill 3

    Individuals accused of being party to a genocide absolutely need to be defended!

    Fuck. If they aren’t, then isn’t the institutional push for condemnation and punishment guilty of expressing much the same stereotypical or bullshit thought(less) processes or arbitrary whatever as those people who commit genocide?

    And where exactly does Phil Quin get the notion that Golriz Ghahraman denied the Rwandan genocide? He says she authored a paper. Does that paper exist, and does it actually argue from a position of denial?

    • mickysavage 3.1

      I presume he is referring to submissions made to the tribunal. It is the lawyer’s job and duty to represent to a court what the client says happened.

      • Ad 3.1.1

        But you can choose your clients.

        • mickysavage 3.1.1.1

          But you can choose your clients.

          Theoretically you can’t. And I would presume that if you want to do war crime prosecutions but don’t have the experience then the only way in may to be to intern for a defence lawyer.

          • Ad 3.1.1.1.1

            Even within the entire UN legal system you can’t seek the career path you want and specialise in prosecutions?

            I don’t believe that.

            Better to say she worked for both sides, by amending the Green Party site. It wouldn’t kill them to admit it and by doing so take a small hit and put it to bed.

      • marty mars 3.1.2

        I thought it was their defence that no genocide occured and she was implicated (in quins mind) as a member of that defence team.

        • lprent 3.1.2.1

          The way that courts operate generally is that it is up to the prosecution to prove their case. They are after all the people making the assertions of wrong doing.

          If you were charged with genocide, you don’t think that it is a good idea that that the prosecution actually proves that one happened?

          This is a variation of the same principle about checking computer failures. It starts with the question about if the power cable is plugged in to the power switch and that switch is on. About one time in 20 it isn’t.

      • Bill 3.1.3

        Yup. It is (their job).

        Incognito (below) might have linked to what Quin was on about. Nothing to do with denial if it’s the right paper.

        Btw. Quin as dissident? Hardly. I mean dissidents are those harangued and despised by those powers dependent upon the status quo, no?

      • Bill 3.2.1

        Well. From the abstract, that’s no denial of genocide.

        • Incognito 3.2.1.1

          Of course not; Mr Quin has fabricated a narrative that suits him, personally and/or his agenda, whatever the reason.

          I doubt that he actually read the paper in question if that’s the one he’s alluding to. If he wants to persuade us to see things his way he needs to much better than this half-baked disingenuous miserable excuse of an effort.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 3.2.1.1.1

            Mr Quin has fabricated a narrative that suits him, personally and/or his agenda, whatever the reason.

            A place on the National Party list is my pick.

            • Incognito 3.2.1.1.1.1

              I challenge Mr Quin to make his case here and explain and support (with evidence) his allegations – even better would be if he were to have a face-to-face (moderated) debate with Ms Ghahraman on TV but that is not my call to make. If there is a threat to our parliamentary system, government, or democracy or something (a higher cause), as he seems to be hinting, then he will oblige. If, however, he is intellectually lazy and lacks the courage to present his case whilst running the risk of being incorrect then he will hide and occasionally throw some crackers in the fire. In other words, Mr Quin is a coward or a principled & concerned citizen and he’ll front. Let’s see what kind of man Mr Quin is …

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                I don’t see why Ms. Ghahraman should be encouraged to waste another second of her time on Mr. Quin’s behalf.

                Who else should she answer to? Cameron Slater? Tony Veitch (the partner bashing thug, not The Standard commenter)?

                Yeah nah. If Mr. Quin wants to take responsibility for his behaviour he can do that perfectly well on Twitter.

                • Incognito

                  It was merely a suggestion, not a ‘should’. I can think of several reasons besides the personal ones for Ms Ghahraman to seek out Mr Quin but as I said, it is not my call and no doubt she has other risks to consider.

                  My guess is that Mr Quin will not take responsibility for his behaviour and that he will continue posting crackers on Twitter.

                  It’s a hallmark of closed-minded people that they will keep digging (e.g. Steven Joyce). It’s a sign of cowards that they will avoid the truth coming out.

          • Ed 3.2.1.1.2

            Quinn is a useful idiot for the Act and National Parties.

  4. mauī 4

    Maybe it’s time for Labour to put out a media blacklist that includes anyone associated with Labour for the last 20 years. 🙂

    • What has Labour’s response been or other greens for that matter?

      • Bearded Git 4.1.1

        The Labour Party President Nigel Haworth has said on Facebook today:

        “Trite criticism of Golriz Ghahraman for doing her job is misguided. It takes moral courage and deep professionalism to be on the ‘other side’ in Human Rights cases. Even genocidal thugs must be allowed due process under the Rule of Law.”

        I would add to this “…so that it can be proved through evidence that they actually are genocidal thugs”

  5. mickysavage 5

    Last time I checked the Green CV for her is still the same.

  6. greywarshark 6

    Those electric elements have been turned onto high. Unsafe. To avoid fire and unnecessary callouts they should be turned off and rest in a waiting situation till they are actually needed for some practical outcome.

  7. Alan 7

    She has been at best economical with the truth. At worst she has bullshitted in order to present a more acceptable profile.
    Either way it is a bad look.
    I wonder what else will emerge?
    If the boot was on the other foot the left would be screaming for the truth and a resignation.

    • Barfly 7.1

      Pfft the Nazis at Nuremburg had lawyers FFS

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2

      Shall we list the National Party MPs who’ve worked as defence lawyers, and note how many times no-one from the Left has called for their resignation on that basis?

      • Alan 7.2.1

        That is not the issue, any reasonable person has no issue with the equitable application of the law.
        The issue is that she has been duplicitous in how she portrayed her involvement.

        [present evidence of duplicity and that she has pretended after the fact, or withdraw all of the allegations you have made in this thread, or expect a ban. Your reckons aren’t enough, you need to back up the assertion with actual evidence. – weka]

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1.1

          No, she hasn’t.

          Her various social media and professional profiles are open about it. She has talked about it in interviews.

          What’s more, it’s quite clear from her own words that she’s proud of it – and so she should be.

          Unlike Operation Burnham. With your concern for truth and human rights I expect you’ll be looking forward to seeing some light shone on that.

          I certainly am.

          • Alan 7.2.1.1.1

            I am not as altruistic as you OAB, my concern is that there may be a person in our parliament that paints herself as one thing but may in fact be another.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1.1.1.1

              I spit on your concern: it’s mired in fraud and hypocrisy.

            • Frank Macskasy 7.2.1.1.1.2

              my concern is that there may be a person in our parliament that paints herself as one thing but may in fact be another

              Judith Collins?

            • AB 7.2.1.1.1.3

              Pfft – thinking back now, didn’t the endless puff pieces about John Key imply he was some sort of ‘business’ genius – but all he had ever done was speculate on currencies? Which is actually the opposite of ‘business’ because no useful goods or services were created?

            • Jeremy 7.2.1.1.1.4

              I cannot recall you being concerned about Jian Yang MP. His story is a better fit for your allegations regarding Golriz Ghahraman MP.

        • weka 7.2.1.2

          see moderation note above. In premoderation until you respond.

        • Alan 7.2.1.3

          ok Weka, I shall say nothing more and will watch with interest over the next week or so.

          [you are certainly welcome to do that as well, but in the absence of providing evidence or withdrawing your claim, I’m going to ban you. 1 month. Future bans will increase in length if you do this again. – weka]

          • One Anonymous Bloke 7.2.1.3.1

            🙄

            Coward can’t support his own words, can’t bring himself to withdraw. No personal responsibility on display here.

          • Anne 7.2.1.3.2

            Weka has asked you to:

            present evidence of duplicity and that she has pretended after the fact, or withdraw all of the allegations you have made.

            You have done neither Alan. In my opinion you should now be banned.

        • Ed 7.2.1.4

          That is slanderous.

    • mauī 7.3

      Does this mean you only do business with companies where their website discloses the owner’s full work history. Honourable stuff…

  8. mac1 8

    Due process and proper representation benefit more than the defendant.

    We, the public, are assured that any conviction is fair and justice is served.

    Otherwise we risk the ongoing uncertainties and misgivings that we are experiencing here in NZ over trials such as those of Bain and Watson.

    Proper justice is proper, and anything less may paint us as vigilantes or even worse, complicit in the same behaviours that these defendants are accused of- denying someone else of their human rights of life and liberty.

  9. Ross 10

    Its a bit like saying that the late defence lawyer Greg King was a denier of murder because he defended alleged murderers. What a silly argument. Of course “genocide denier” is akin to holocaust denier which I suspect is the comparison Quin was trying to make. He must really despise the Left.

    I also note that prior to the election Quin was gleefully predicting that Labour would be in Opposition for the next three years. That he wrongly predicted the election outcome seems to have brought out the worst in him.

  10. Chris 11

    Personally think the defence volunteer jobs aren’t the biggest deal in the world.

    Not sure I would do it but I never wanted to be a lawyer, and you can learn more from both sides of the fence than sitting permanently on the “goodies” side.

    I just think she should have been a lot more up front about it. Especially given the Greens “preachy” habit of portraying themselves as some sort of moral guardians. It looks a bit hypocritical

    I did see she did an interview where she had spoken about it, but reading a few of her bio’s it’s pushing it to say she wasn’t,

    a) Brushing over the “baddie” defender bits

    b) Padding up he “goodie” prosecutor bits

    Weirdest thing is for an obviously highly intelligent chick, she is pretty naïve, if she thought people wouldn’t have a field day with it

    • RedLogix 11.1

      Nope. Whether she represented the defense or prosecution is totally, utterly and completely irrelevant.

      The only question of merit is; did she do a professional and competent job of serving the process of justice? And in this instance the answer is an unambiguous yes. And under especially demanding circumstances.

      As you say, you never wanted to be a lawyer (or barrister which is what you’re really talking about here) … and it’s clear from your embarrassingly vague sense of what this is all about, that was smart thinking Chris.

  11. Michael 12

    I think Simon Bridges should resign. He prosecuted people under our appallingly unjust criminal law.

  12. rhinocrates 13

    Robert Bolt, A Man for all Seasons

    Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

    More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

    Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

    More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

  13. newsense 14

    Has Phil Quinn ever done anything good in his life? If he is depressed or whatever could he do it without setting progressive causes back and helping the right? Or just join National already. Thankfully J. Pagani seems to be ok with having a Labour government!

  14. Sparky 15

    Yes they call them defence lawyers for a reason……they defend people. Its an important part of any legal system worthy of the title. What I’d like to know is where are Labour on this as an alliance partner? Have they made a statement?

  15. eco maori 16

    I think it’s bull that national try an cast a stone at Gloriz and try and paint a farcical picture of them selves. One saying I hold as fact is you reap what you sow and look at national harvest people under the bridge education failing hospital wait list years long jail overflowing a culture put down artist instead of help thy neighbours.
    A justice system that serves the ego of the self righteous instead of the people. And a social welfare system and accident insurance systems designed to deny the help that OUR people need. A culture of don’t trust the Brown people and a deliberate suppression of Maori people and OUR culture. Ana to kai

    • Ross 16.1

      To be fair, I dont think any National MPs have criticised Ghahraman. Which is pretty telling. They would realise that National has accommodated its fair share of lawyers, several of whom maybe defended criminals in a previous life. They would realise, I think, that they’d be skating on thin ice were they to attack Ghahraman.

      • Ross 16.1.1

        Indeed the then Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, told an audience in 2012 that “no greater contribution to justice can be made than by a fiercely independent member of the bar who will take on unpopular cases or act for unpopular litigants”.

      • halfcrown 16.1.2

        “They would realise, I think, that they’d be skating on thin ice were they to attack Ghahraman.”

        That’s right. That is why they have their captivated MSM toadies like Quinn, Garner , the Penguin, Whaleoil, Soper to do their dirty work.

  16. peterh 17

    Every day you see fools rush in, to all you fools that are going on about truth,
    it has just been proven that Dot coms moment of truth, was in fact true, the whole country misled just prior to a election, by who John Key

  17. Any individual or group has EVERY right to a defence no matter their crime. End of story.

  18. lloyd 19

    When we are attacking politicians for being on the wrong side did we ever get the dinkum oil about John Key and how much his trading of NZ dollars before he dropped banking cost the NZ taxpayer? And how close he was to actions that resulted in the global financial meltdown?

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