NZBA responds to criticism of lawyers defending war criminals

The New Zealand Bar Association | Ngā Ahorangi Motuhake o te Ture fully supports the statement issued earlier today by the New Zealand Law Society in response to media comments about Green MP Golriz Ghahraman’s former role as a defence lawyer for individuals accused of international crimes.

“Everyone accused of a crime, whether in a domestic or international court, has the right to legal representation.” NZBA President Clive Elliott QC says. “Lawyers have a professional and ethical responsibility to provide such representation, no matter what crimes a person is accused of or may have committed. The domestic and international justice systems rely on lawyers willing to take on the difficult and often thankless task of defending those who are accused of terrible crimes.”

Mr Elliott says that defence lawyers deserve respect for the difficult role they perform and should not be subjected to criticism based on the nature of their work or the conduct of their clients. “The fact that Ms Ghahraman apparently volunteered to assist in the defence of a person accused of war crimes is entirely consistent with a commitment to upholding human rights and the rule of law. It does not reflect in any negative way on her character, contrary to what has been suggested by some commentators.”

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