|The world’s largest security company, G4S, will face renewed pressure from different directions to drop its Israeli prison contracts at its Annual General Meeting today.
Public pressure will come from a petition of more than 3,000 signatures calling on G4S to withdraw from contracts with the Israeli Prison Service. The petition will be delivered to the G4S board on the day of the AGM by Hugh Lanning, Chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Inside the AGM itself, shareholders will continue to pressure the board with questions about the links between G4S and human rights abuses in G4S serviced prisons run by the Israeli Prison Service.
At last year’s AGM, shareholders rocked the G4S board with question after question on the subject.
Outside the AGM, protestors from the Stop G4S coalition, supported by Palestine Solidarity Campaign, will be staging a noisy demonstration against the company’s involvement in the Israeli prisons where Palestinians, including children, are held, and according to independent reports, often tortured*.
In the Guardian today, letters signed by notable figures including Archbishop Desmond Tutu and 14 British MPs call on G4S to end its involvement in prisons where Palestinians are held and torture.
Sarah Colborne, Director of PSC, said: ‘G4S is a company which is profiting from the incarceration of Palestinian children, from the humiliation of Palestinians at checkpoints, and from the theft of Palestinian land by settlements.
“The board needs to explain to shareholders and the public what concrete steps it has taken since last year’s AGM to distance itself from the human rights violations which are linked to G4S’s business in Palestine and Israel.”
In what appears to be a calculated attempt to fend off criticism, G4S has released what it claims to be an independent report on its activities in Israel. This report has been released on the eve of G4S’ AGM, apparently in order to stymie pressure from shareholders. Campaigners believe at first reading that this report, which claims that ‘G4S has no causal or contributory role in human rights violations’ is wholly inadequate.
In a further blow to G4S, just days before its AGM, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it was selling shares in the company. And the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that it would be investigating G4S over whether it has breached the human rights of Palestinians with its Israeli prison contracts. This was in response to a request from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights.
|Notes for the Editor|
|G4S provides security systems to prisons in Israel and the West Bank where Palestinians are held, many without charge or trial in what is known as administrative detention.Palestinian children as young as 12 are held in Al-Jalame prison (Israel) or Ofer prison (West Bank), both of which are serviced by G4S.G4S also provides equipment and maintenance services to Israel’s West Bank checkpoints, which restrict the freedom of movement of Palestinians on their own land. And it provides security services to businesses in Israel’s settlements. The settlements have been declared illegal under international law.
* Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel: www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/MDE15/026/2012/en
Children in Israeli military detention: www.unicef.org/oPt/UNICEF_oPt_Children_in_Israeli_Military_Detention_Observations_and_Recommendations_-_6_March_2013.pdf
Media reports from last year’s AGM:
G4S ‘faces barrage of tough questions over…business in Israel’ (Guardian)
‘Shareholders urge G4S to drop the ‘toxic contract’’ (Telegraph)