Prominent New Zealand MP resigns amid shoplifting scandal

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Golriz Ghahraman

NEW ZEALAND, Jan 16: In a surprising turn of events, Golriz Ghahraman, a prominent New Zealand Green Party Member of Parliament (MP) and the party’s justice spokesperson, has announced her immediate resignation. The decision comes in the wake of accusations involving shoplifting from two high-end clothing stores.

In her first public statement addressing the allegations, Ghahraman expressed that the stresses related to her work had taken a toll on her mental health, leading her to act in ways that were “completely out of character.” Taking full responsibility for her actions, she acknowledged falling short of the high standards expected from elected representatives. She stated, “People should, rightly, expect the highest standards of behavior from their elected representatives. I fell short. I’m sorry.”

Ghahraman emphasized her commitment to focusing on her recovery and finding alternative ways to contribute to positive change in the world. The allegations, initially reported by Newstalk ZB Plus on January 10, detailed accusations of shoplifting during the festive season from Scotties Boutique, a luxury brand store in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby.

While the police confirmed an ongoing investigation into the allegations, they were unable to disclose individual identities. Ghahraman, in her statement, acknowledged her mental health struggles, citing extreme stress response and previously unrecognized trauma as contributing factors to her recent behavior.

The Green Party co-leaders, Marama Davidson and James Shaw, praised Ghahraman’s significant political achievements, particularly in advocating for human rights, independent foreign policy, and electoral reform. Despite her contributions, they supported her decision to resign, emphasizing the importance of maintaining high standards of public behavior.

Shaw noted the significant abuse and threats Ghahraman had faced since entering parliament, including instances of sexual and physical violence threats. While recognizing the challenges faced by women, especially women of color, the co-leaders maintained the expectation of MPs to uphold high standards.

Ghahraman, who made history in 2017 as the first refugee elected to the New Zealand Parliament, served as the Green Party spokesperson for justice, trade, and foreign affairs. Before entering politics, she worked as a criminal defense and human rights lawyer, contributing to UN tribunals in Rwanda, Cambodia, and The Hague. In 2020, Ghahraman disclosed her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, adding another layer to her personal and professional challenges.

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