G4S responds to public anger but remains complicit in Israel’s abhorrent prison system
Palestinian Prisoners Day was last week marked with actions in 11 countries protesting the complicity of British-Danish security company G4S in Israel’s prison system. The company provides equipment and services to prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are illegally detained and subjected to torture. G4S also operates in Israeli checkpoints and illegal Israeli settlements. G4S has already lost contracts with universities, banks and charities across Europe as a result of its role in Israeli human rights violations.
Reporting on the groundswell of public anger about G4S profiting from Israeli violations of international law, the Financial Times published an article that underlines the extent to which the campaign against G4S is impacting on the company’s reputation among investors.
“The Israel/Palestine conflict has created reputational issues” for G4S, an investment analyst is quoting as warning. The article suggests that G4S may be considering selling its Israeli subsidiary altogether.
The international campaign against G4S is resulting in the company losing lucrative contracts and facing criticism from public figures, members of parliament from across Europe, trade unions and investment experts.
G4S told the Financial Times that it is responding to public pressure and repeated previous statements that it will “aim to exit the contracts which involve the servicing of security equipment at a small number of barrier checkpoints, a prison and a police station in the West Bank area“.
However, even if G4S implements the steps it announced in 2011, it will remain an accomplice to Israeli war crimes and human rights abuses in several ways:
- G4S is contracted to deliver equipment and services to prisons inside Israel to which Palestinians from occupied territory are transferred in violation of the Geneva Convention. Human rights organisations have documented that Palestinians, including child prisoners, are held in these prisons without trial or charge and subjected to torture.
- G4S provides security equipment, services and personnel to businesses inside illegal Israeli settlements. In a recent email to a UK client seen by campaigners, G4S confirmed that it also provides security services to homes in illegal Israeli settlements.
- G4S provides systems, equipment and services to the Israeli military, including the provision of “patrol units” for the guarding of military premises.
The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition that leads Palestinian civil society’s BDS Campaign, welcomes the fact that popular mobilization is bringing pressure to bear on G4S.
The BNC reiterates its position that G4S has only stated that it will “aim” to exit a limited number of contracts and remains deeply complicit with Israel’s abhorrent prison system and other violations of international law.
G4S announced a new “ground breaking” human rights policy on Monday. This new policy will be prove meaningless if the company continues to participate in and profit from Israeli violations of international law that have been widely condemned by human rights organizations, the UN and other international bodies.
The BNC calls for the intensification of the campaign against G4S and looks forward to working with supporters of human rights all across the world to pressure the company until it ends all involvement in Israeli war crimes and abuses of Palestinian human rights.