Home News New Zealand Lawmaker Resigns Due to Shoplifting Allegations

New Zealand Lawmaker Resigns Due to Shoplifting Allegations

Golriz Ghahraman, a notable New Zealand lawmaker, resigned on Tuesday amid allegations of shoplifting from two clothing stores. The Iranian-born Ghahraman is a former UN human rights lawyer who made history as the first refugee elected to the New Zealand Parliament. Her recent actions fall short of her legacy, no doubt.

Reports of Ghahraman shoplifting began circulating in New Zealand media this month. The lawmaker has allegedly stolen three times from two stores in the country. One CCTV footage showed her apparently taking a luxury handbag from an Auckland store.

While she has not been formally charged with any crime, Ghahraman acknowledged her behaviour was “not rational” and a result of an “extreme stress response” linked to unrecognized past trauma. Although she did not pointedly talk about the shoplifting allegations, she disclosed she had undergone mental evaluations and found out that she was not well.

In a statement on Tuesday, the 43-year-old lawmaker said: “I fell short. I’m sorry. The best thing for my mental health is to resign as a member of Parliament.”

As a Green Party member, Ghahraman has been a fierce advocate for refugee and migrant rights. Her work has also focused on redirecting New Zealand’s military involvement in the Middle East towards tackling the climate crisis. In 2020, she disclosed her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis and has been a supporter of Palestinian rights.

James Shaw and Marama Davidson, co-leaders of the Green Party, expressed their support for Ghahraman. At a news conference on Tuesday, Mr. Shaw acknowledged the continuous threats of sexual harassment, violence, and death that Ghahraman faced since her election. He noted that the level of stress she experienced was significantly higher than most parliament members due to ongoing threats, which have been under police investigation. According to him, the extreme stress is bound to take a toll on Ghahraman.

Ghahraman’s exact medical condition is not known, but her resignation undoubtedly emphasizes the high standards expected of public representatives.

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