Protests force G4S to give up West Bank contracts
By Gill Plimmer, Financial Times
April 21, 2013
G4S, the world’s biggest security company by revenues, has confirmed it is planning to quit key contracts in Israel amid protests against its involvement in settlements within occupied Palestinian territories.
The company employs 6,000 people in Israel, where it provides and maintains screening equipment for several West Bank military checkpoints. It also manages security systems at the controversial Ofer Prison in the Occupied West Bank.
But with sporadic international protests continuing both outside the FTSE 100’s headquarters in London and internationally, the company said it would exit the contracts covering Ofer, the checkpoints and the West Bank police headquarters when they terminate in 2015.
“Having conducted a review in 2011, we concluded that, to ensure that G4S Israel business practices remain in line with our own business ethics policy, we would 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,” G4S told the Financial Times.
The move will nevertheless disappoint protesters, who have called on G4S to end all dealings with the Israeli prison authorities. The security company will continue to service security systems in commercial and government sites inside Israel, including jails housing Palestinian inmates, after 2015.
Analysts have raised the prospect that G4S could be tempted to divest the Israeli business altogether. The company has raised “reputational risk” higher up the list of priorities in the wake of its humiliating failure to provide 10,400 guards contracted for the London Olympics, with the armed forces called in to make up the shortfall.
Kean Marden, analyst at Jefferies, the US investment bank, said in a note: “G4S Israel may be next to be divested? The Israel/Palestine conflict has created reputational issues. In our view the potential disposal of G4S Israel could be announced as soon as the 25 June capital markets day.”
G4S has established a risk committee and is conducting more formal reviews of the operational and reputational dangers of contracts worth more than £20m. It has also stated its ambition to offload underperforming parts of the business.
The group earned £100m in sales at its Israeli operations last year. But the division accounts for just 1 per cent of global revenues, and 1 per cent of profits at the global group, which employs 625,000 people in 125 countries.
Last week 19 non-government organisations from Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine called on Arab nations and the European Union to stop dealing with G4S. The Scottish Trades Union Congress also voted on Tuesday to support Palestinian calls for a boycott of the multinational. It has agreed to put pressure on Holyrood to cancel G4S’s new £13m contract to carry out the electronic tagging of offenders in Scotland over the next five years.
G4S has said that it has no people working at the prison sites or managing control rooms in jails in Israel or the occupied territories; staff simply fix security equipment such as CCTV and leave.
Earlier this week, Trevor Dighton, finance director, sold 30 per cent of his share holding, or about 400,000 shares, at £2.958 and raised £1.3m. According to the latest report and accounts Mr Dighton held 1.46m shares (including deferred shares) on December 31 2012. His successor, Ashley Almanza, starts on 1 May.
Facing backlash, British security firm to partially divest
G4S, which employs 6,000 people in Israel, says it will not renew contracts to provide security systems for West Bank sites
By Joshua Davidovich, Times of Israel
April 22, 2013
One of the largest security companies operating in Israel said Sunday it would not renew a number of important contracts, in response to tension over its activities in the West Bank.
Britain- and Denmark-based G4S, which has come under heavy pressure from pro-Palestinian activists, said it would let expire contracts to provide screening equipment at the Ofer Military prison near Ramallah, at West Bank checkpoints and at a police station in the contentious E-1 area east of Jerusalem, the Financial Times reported Sunday.
The contracts run out in 2015.
“Having conducted a review in 2011, we concluded that, to ensure that G4S Israel business practices remain in line with our own business ethics policy, we would 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 are,” the firm told the paper.
One of the largest security firms in the world, G4S provides screening and other services to a number of Israeli organizations, including CCTV cameras installed in Tel Aviv, screening equipment used in the prison system, and security for courts.
The company’s dealings with Israel, especially over the Green Line, have drawn widespread condemnation. Last week, the Scottish Trades Union Congress voted to support a boycott of the firm. The move came days after a group of 19 NGOs from the Arab world called on Europe and the Middle East to end its dealings with G4S.
A statement from the NGOs said the multinational did “not comply with the Palestinians’ demands to stop its involvement in Israel’s crimes and violations of human rights and its involvement in Israeli apartheid,” Daily News Egypt reported.
The move to not renew the contracts with likely be seen as a coup for boycott divest and sanction activists, who call for the boycotting and divestment of all companies that deal with Israel.
However, the firm said it would continue to operate its contracts within the Green Line. The company currently employs 6,000 people in Israel.
Media release, War on Want
April 22, 2013
Call to end complicity after partial withdrawal plans announced
The charity War on Want today welcomed the decision announced by the British private security corporation G4S not to renew contracts in the occupied West Bank as a step forward in the campaign to end the multinational’s complicity with the occupation.
War on Want demanded the company now withdraws from contracts to supply Israeli prisons.
The charity declared its commitment to step up the pressure on G4S to be held to account for involvement with Israel’s unlawful detention of Palestinians.
International pressure brought the announcement that G4S in 2015 will not renew contracts for the supply of security equipment and services for use at checkpoints and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.
So far the corporation has refused to publicly address the issue of its complicity in the detention of Palestinians, including children, who are held in solitary confinement in G4S-equipped facilities.
In 2007, G4S signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems and other services for major Israeli prisons.
The company supplies equipment to prisons within Israel which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory.
Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier.
War on Want senior campaigns officer Rafeef Ziadah said:
The G4S decision not to renew contracts in the occupied West Bank is a sign that the company is on the back foot.
The corporation realises complicity in the occupation is bad for its reputation and bad for business.
However G4S still provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons, where Palestinian political prisoners, including child prisoners, are detained and tortured.
This British company is profiting from human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.
We will keep up the pressure until G4S withdraws from all contracts.
War on Want works closely with partners in Palestine and will continue the campaign to end G4S complicity in Israel’s detention of Palestinians.
A few links to campaigns and previous posts
People across Britain Protest Against G4S, PSC campaign
No to G4S UK campaign against ‘private security army’ G4S
G4S voted world’s 3rd worst company Public Eye ‘award’