The following statement is republished from the Palestinian BDS National Committee:
The latest statement by G4S regarding its relationship with the Israeli prison service, police and military shows that it is still not taking adequate steps to address its involvement in Israeli human rights violations, Palestinian civil society campaigners say.
Leaders of some of the biggest UK trade unions wrote to G4S recently to seek clarification regarding its intention to sell its Israeli subsidiary, an announcement that follows a high profile Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against the company. The Financial Times reported at the time that G4S was “extracting itself from reputationally damaging work.”
The UK trade unions’ letter expressed concerns that “the announcement of a sale of G4S Israel may be used to justify ongoing complicity in human rights violations” and asked for specific assurances.
The statement that G4S provided in response to the letter simply repeats its previous ambiguous announcements and falls far short from providing the sought explanations.
Ahead of the company’s shareholders meeting in London tomorrow, Mahmoud Nawajaa, general coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the broadest coalition in Palestinian civil society that leads the global BDS movement, said:
“G4S is refusing to provide any assurances that it will not sign new contracts with Israeli government bodies that commit human rights violations such as the Israeli occupation forces or the Israeli Prison Service.”
“Given its shameful track record of saying one thing and then doing another, G4S statements that it will end its participation in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians at some undetermined point in the future cannot be trusted. Promises about future conduct do nothing to change the reality that G4S continues to aid and abet Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights on a daily basis.”
A pledge G4S made in 2012 to end its involvement in Ofer prison and Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank by the end of 2015 never materialised.
Nawajaa added: “G4S was offered the chance to express regret for its role in Israel’s prisons, where Palestinian political prisoners are tortured, and the opportunity to assure the public that it will stop facilitating Israel’s crimes as soon as possible. Instead, the company has is trying to hide behind vague promises and the concept of ‘commercial sensitivity’ in order to shield itself from criticism.”
“G4S’s attempt to argue that its intended withdrawal from Israeli projects that violate international law is based on ‘entirely commercial reasons’ does not mean that BDS was not a key factor. G4S has lost contracts worth millions of dollars as a result of BDS campaigns.”
“As was the case at the height of the international boycott of apartheid South Africa, BDS pressure is making some of the world’s largest corporations realize that profiting from Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid is becoming commercially untenable.”
According to Addameer, are now more than 7,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, many of which G4S helps to run. This figure includes 430 children and 750 people held in administrative detention, a form of detention without trial.
In addition to its involvement in maintaining Israel’s occupation and apartheid policies through providing services to Israeli settlements, prisons and military checkpoints,G4S is involved in the mass incarceration business and asylum seekers’ detention centers in many countries across the world. As a result, it has become a common target across different movements in the US, UK, South Africa and elsewhere.
G4S has lost contracts with businesses, universities and unions across the world as a result of BDS campaigning. The Bill Gates Foundation and the United Methodist Church pension fund have sold their respective shares in the company following major BDS campaigns in 2014.
The Stop G4S campaign was launched by Palestinian prisoner rights organisations in 2012 and is now taking place in countries across the world, including in Europe, the US, Latin America and the Arab World.
A coalition of US groups recently launched the g4sfacts.org website that explains the company’s role in human rights abuses across the world.