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London borough to exclude unethical companies

BDS Victory as Tower Hamlets Council Agrees to Ethical Procurement to Exclude Occupation Profiteers

Media release from Tower Hamlets and Jenin Friendship Association
January 23, 2015

After a successful local petition demanding that G4S be disqualified from contracts in Tower Hamlets was presented to Tower Hamlets Council last night, both Tower Hamlets First and the Labour Party agreed with the demand made at full council to adopt a tight ethical procurement policy for council contracts.

The petition, demanding that G4S be disqualified from future contracts on the basis of its far reaching complicity with the illegal occupation reached 1,953 signatures and was presented to councillors and lead members after an hour-long lobby outside the council building where a coalition of groups chanted slogans in support of Palestine.

In the occupied West Bank, G4S provides security systems for Israeli prisons, equipment for military checkpoints and security services for illegal settlements.

G4S currently runs caretaking and school maintenance in twenty Tower Hamlets schools. Information recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that the council uses G4S to provide catering services for its ‘Signs of Safety’ child protection training courses in Mile End , and that in 2014 it spent close to 100k on procuring a service from a G4S children’s home.

The agreement to amend the ethical procurement policy should see the end to any further contracts with G4S, Veolia and other companies on the basis of their ‘grave misconduct’, profiting from the illegal occupation of Palestine and the suffering of Palestinians against international law.

Tahsin Ahmed of Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity Campaign who launched the petition against G4S and presented it to the packed council meeting said, “This evening, we challenged Tower Hamlets council to improve its procurement process to enable it to exclude companies which are guilty of grave misconduct in Palestine.

They agreed to do this. We have been invited to meet soon with the lead cabinet member Cllr Alibor Choudhury to discuss taking further action.

We are pleased to note that there was full support for the proposal from both the major parties in the Council chamber.”

The campaign was run by the newly formed Tower Hamlets Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association, who have run a long-term campaign against the multinational Veolia which presently runs street cleaning and waste services in the borough. The procurement process for new contracts covering these services is about to begin and could well be affected by this new development.

Campaigners have hailed the adoption of a new policy as a significant step towards a Boycott Divestment Sanctions victory but have vowed to keep up the pressure until ‘genuinely ethical’ procurement is successfully in place in the borough.

Sybil Cock of Tower Hamlets Jenin Friendship Association and Tower Hamlets PSC said, “We would like to thank everyone who signed our ongoing petitions against G4S and Veolia, especially those who have been involved in this divestment campaign over the last months, weeks and years. We will continue to work to challenge the existing contracts and sponsorship deals with these unethical companies until they completely divest from business with the Israeli occupation.”

The petition

Disqualify G4S from bidding for contracts in Tower Hamlets Click headline to sign the petition

PSC Tower Hamlets

We the undersigned demand Tower Hamlets Council adopt an ethical procurement policy to prohibit contracts with G4S until they end their complicity in human rights abuse.

G4S provides security systems for major Israeli prisons and detention centres, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel. Human rights organizations have documented systematic torture and ill treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners, detained within Israel.

The transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier contravenes Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In the Occupied West Bank, G4S provides equipment for a prison, police headquarters, businesses within illegal settlements, a settlement industrial zone and check points along the Illegal Apartheid Wall.

Reports include:

June 2012 Amnesty International ‘Starved of Justice: Palestinians detained without trial by Israel’.

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office -funded report: ‘Children in Military Custody’;

February 2013 UNICEF ‘Children in Israeli Military Detention’. The UNICEF report specifically mentions G4S- serviced Ofer Prison and the Kishon/Al Jalame detention centre as places where children are interrogated. The report found that there is “widespread, systematic and institutionalized” abuse of Palestinian children held in Israeli custody.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits an occupying power from forcibly transferring or deporting people from an occupied territory.

Article 76, paragraph 1, of the Fourth Geneva Conevention states that “protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country and if convicted, they shall serve their sentences therein.”

Palestinian prisoners, including children are routinely transferred from the West Bank to G4S-serviced prisons and detention facilities in Israel, in breach of both Articles.

Until G4S can prove to the satisfaction of the Council that all such abuse has ended, and the company has withdrawn from any involvement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories or Israeli prisons, we call on Tower Hamlets to disqualify G4S from bidding for contracts.

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