OECD’s body in UK to examine G4S role in oPt
Articles on the G4S loss of reputation from 1) Telegraph, 2) Financial Times, 3) International Business Times. Notes and links on the OECD guidelines and the National Contact Point at foot.
Photo by AFP chosen by the Telegraph to illustrate this article.
A UK Government-funded watchdog will look at whether the human rights of Palestinians have been breached by G4S
By Andrew Trotman, Daily Telegraph
June 02, 2014
G4S is being investigated by a UK Government-funded watchdog over the supply of security equipment to the West Bank and Israel.
The National Contact Point (NCP), a part of the Department for Business, said it had “accepted issues for further examination” into the British company’s actions in the area.
G4S supplies and services security and screening equipment to military checkpoints, prisons and detention centres in occupied Palestinian territories.
Following a complaint by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR), the NCP will look at whether the human rights of Palestinians have been breached by G4S.
G4S, which employs 6,000 people in Israel, denies the allegations, saying they are politically-motivated.
By Gill Plimmer, Financial Times
June 02, 2014
G4S, the global security company, came under further pressure on Monday when a UK government-funded watchdog agreed to investigate its activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
G4S supplies and services screening and security equipment to military checkpoints, prisons and detention centres in the West Bank and Israel.
In a statement the National Contact Point, a government body, said that it had “accepted issues for further examination”, though it stressed that no conclusions had yet been reached.
The National Contact Point sits within the Department for Business and is responsible for ensuring the OECD’s standards for the behaviour of multinationals are fulfilled.
It is expected to examine whether the supplying and servicing of equipment in the checkpoints infringes on the human rights of Palestinians. It will also examine the use of screening equipment in prisons and detention centres in Israel and the West Bank.
The investigation shines a spotlight on the murky area of what constitutes ethical practice for multinationals. G4S has been under pressure from pro-Palestinian protesters over its work for the Israeli authorities for several years and is expected to face protests outside its annual general meeting on Thursday.
Tareq Shrourou, Director, LPHR
The investigation follows a formal complaint to the NCP by Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, a charity that has criticised G4S’s work in the region. The NCP, which has carried out investigations elsewhere into the mining company Xstrata and BT, will conduct a process of mediation between the campaign group and G4S.
G4S, which employs 6,000 people in Israel, said it “takes very seriously our obligations to ensure that our activities do not contribute to human rights abuses. We have provided evidence which clearly demonstrates that the company is acting appropriately in the context of international laws and voluntary human rights guidelines including those set out by the OECD”.
G4S said it would support the NCP’s process but cited the watchdog’s “clear acknowledgment that the company carries out extensive due diligence and ongoing review of the potential human rights risks of its business”.
The group has already said it will not seek to renew the West Bank contracts when they end in 2015. It argues that its staff simply fix and install security equipment such as CCTV and are not directly involved in the management of the prisons or checkpoints.
But the arguments have failed to satisfy the pro-Palestinian campaign groups, which want the company to exit all its contracts for the Israeli government.
Last year another campaign group, War on Want, wrote to Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder, urging him to sell his stake in G4S because of its involvement in Israel.
His charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, had bought 3.2 per cent of G4S through his investment group Cascade last June for £110m but reduced his stake to below 3 per cent last week. The Gates foundation declined to comment on the reasons behind the sale.
Tareq Shrourou, director of Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, welcomed the
acknowledgment that there are serious issues raised by our complaint.
We hope that the process will contribute to a positive transformation of the human rights situation for Palestinians adversely impacted by the company’s activities.
The Israeli embassy in London said that the Israeli NCP was co-operating with the UK NCP and would continue to follow the proceedings.
Security firm under fire after death of Palestinian inmate reconfirms pull-out from prison and police HQ deals
By Gianluca Mezzofiore, International Business Times
April 22, 2013
The world’s biggest security company, G4S, has reiterated its pledge to end key contracts in Israel after pressure by pro-Palestinian groups in a move that some economists have suggested could signal it pulling out of the country altogether.
“G4S Israel may be next to be divested?” Kean Marden, analyst at Jefferies, told FT after G4S said it would reduce its involvement in settlements inside occupied Palestinian territories.
“The Israel-Palestine conflict has created reputational issues.The potential disposal of G4S Israel could be announced as soon as the June 25 capital markets day,” said Jefferies.
The British-Danish firm, which employs 6,000 people in Israel, confirmed it will not renew security contracts at Ofer prison in the West Bank, plus checkpoints and the West Bank police headquarters, when they finish in 2015.
The initial decision dates back to 2011 but was confirmed in the wake of fresh protests by the BDS movement, which campaigns for the boycott of Israel and companies it accuses of being complicit in the country’s violations of international law.
G4S told the FT that to ensure that its practices in Israel remain in line with its business ethics policy, it will 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 is responding to the huge amount of public pressure it is facing across Europe and the Arab world for its deep complicity with Israeli violations of international law by repeating its existing position that it intends to pull out of some of its contracts in illegal Israeli settlements,” Zaid Shuaibi, spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, told IBTimes UK.
Protest against G4S outside Ofer prison, May 2013. The multinational company has since decided not to tender to renew its contract for running the prison when it runs out in 2015.
However, the company will continue to service security systems in other sites inside Israel, including cameras and control rooms of prisons where Palestinians are held.
Even if G4S does exit the contracts it has mentioned, it will remain involved in providing services to businesses and homes inside Israel’s illegal settlements and to prisons inside Israel at which Palestinians are illegally detained and subjected to torture, said Shuaibi.
The case of Arafat Jaradat, who died after being detained in Israel’s Meggido prison in February and was allegedly subjected to torture in the al-Jalameh interrogation facility, sparked a backlash among rights group over G4S equipment.
At the Scottish Trades Union Congress, delegates staged a demonstration against the company in a bid to force it to abandon its contracts in Israel. The congress voted to support Palestinian calls for a boycott of the multinational.
Nineteen human rights organisations in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine issued a statement calling for the exclusion of G4S from contracts inside the European Union. Film directors Ken Loach and Mike Leigh wrote a letter to the BBC calling on it to “recognise there is a public interest in excluding G4S from the tendering process”.
“G4S has already lost contracts with universities, banks and charities across Europe as a result of public anger about its partnership with the Israeli government,” said Shuaibi.
“G4S stands to lose far more than the 1 percent of its global revenues it makes in Israel if it continues its involvement in Israeli human rights violations.”
Complaint from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) against G4S
Guidance: UK National Contact Point for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational enterprises
Department for Business, Innovation & Skills
Guidelines for responsible business conduct.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines are recommendations for responsible business conduct that adhering governments encourage their enterprises to observe wherever they operate.
The OECD guidelines cover a broad range of issues, including:
● due diligence in the supply chain
● human rights
● employment and industrial relations
● working to stop bribery
● consumer interests
● science and technology
Each adhering country must set up a National Contact Point (NCP) with the tasks of:
● raising awareness of the OECD guidelines with businesses, trade unions and non-governmental organisations
● implementing the OECD guidelines’ complaint mechanism – the UK NCP is based in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is also partly funded by the Department for International Development (DFID)
For any queries on, or complaints under the OECD guidelines, or if you wish
to be included in the UK NCP’s keep in touch mailing list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
UK National Contact Point for the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)
3rd Floor – Victoria Zone 3
1 Victoria Street
London SW1H OET
Further UK NCP contact details are listed below:
telephone: 020 7215 0395
fax: 020 7215 6767
telephone: 020 7215 5679
fax: 020 7215 6767
telephone: 020 7215 6638
fax: 020 7215 6767