- Published on Wednesday, 25 April 2012 12:03
On Tuesday, the British Danish Corporation G4S issued a statement to PNN in which they condoned their decision in providing services to Israeli Prisons which hold administrative detainees, alongside providing security and equipment to military checkpoints and police stations in the West Bank, Palestine.
Last week 12 Palestinian campaign groups signed a statement asking the international community to apply pressure by boycotting G4S and furthermore demanded accountability of all companies who continue to profit from the mistreatment and abuse of Palestinian political prisoners by the Israeli Prison Service.
In the statement issued by the BDS and Addameer Lawyers Association, they held G4S accountable after they had signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Authority in 2007 and specified which prisons G4S have provided services
"G4S provided systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel in contravention of international law. The company also provided equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, at which human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. G4S continues to provide equipment to Israeli prisons."
They continued by stating that G4S have provided further services to the Israeli apartheid regime by providing equipment to checkpoints and terminals isolating the occupied territory of Gaza, which is in direct contravention and violation of international law.
In an email issued to PNN, G4S said
"This is our position in relation to contracts we have in Israel, with the Israeli Government and with the West Bank. As you will see, some of activity is historical and we are in the process of exiting it, and other contracts are considered to be of wide benefit."
This was their official statement:
Prior to the merger, Group 4 Falck’s subsidiary in Israel (then called Hashmira) carried out a number of “protective services” to Israeli settlements in the West Bank region. In 2002, the then CEO of Group 4 Falck made a statement saying that the group felt the contracts were not in line with the company’s policies and that Hashmira would be exiting the contracts which protected the perimeter of the settlements. This was completed in 2002.
In 2010, press interest gained momentum with accusations that Group 4 Falck (now G4S) had not delivered on its promise to exit the contracts. At that time we provided clarity to NGO’s, the media and other stakeholder groups on our operations in the West Bank, which could not be compared to those provided prior to 2002.
Our services in the West Bank were much reduced by that time and can be summarised as follows:
▪ provision of a small number of security officers within retail and banking outlets
▪ monitoring of home security systems
▪ Security systems maintenance at a prison, a police station and at a small number of checkpoints in the West Bank area
To help us understand all of the issues and to come to a satisfactory conclusion regarding the operations in the area, we took a number of steps:
Legal Review - G4S engaged Professor Hjalte Rasmussen, from the University of Copenhagen, who is a well known and leading authority in international law, to review our business on the West Bank and provide a legal opinion. After visiting the region, Professor Rasmussen concluded that G4S did not violate any national or international law.
External Advice - we sought advice from a number of independent external sources including socially responsible investment groups such as GES Investment Services and Ethix SRI.
Senior Management Review – a senior delegation from G4S plc management, including the Group CEO, CFO and HR Director visited the region to fully understand the extent of our operations and to consult with the Head of Mission from the UK in order to gain further insight into issues faced by our business and the impact of current and proposed legislation on companies in the region.
Conclusions - the review concluded that a number of our contracts with private enterprises in the area for traditional security and alarm monitoring services were not discriminatory or controversial and in fact helped to provide safety and security for the general public no matter what their background.
However, we also concluded that to ensure that our business practices remain in line with our own Business Ethics Policy, we would aim to exit a number of contracts which involved the servicing of security equipment at the barrier checkpoints, a prison and a police station in the West Bank.
We stated that we would aim to complete this exit as soon as possible, but also had to recognise that we had contractual obligations to our customers which we must take into consideration. Having had multiple discussions with the customers to which we were contracted to provide these services it became clear that any exit from these services would not be possible in the short term. We intend to exit the contracts outlined above when the contract terms expire and will continue to discuss this with the customers in question."
A PNN journalist then asked them to clarify their position, after they said they would consider withdrawing their services from one police station and one prison in the West Bank, by asking them if they would continue to provide services to Israeli prisons who hold Palestinian political detainees in Israel. Moreover if this was in contravention with international law. So far G4S have not provided a response, even though they said they would answer all questions concerning their services in Israel and the West Bank
In an interview Addameer lawyer, Sahar Francis, said that Addameer Lawyers Association have so far not received any official statement from G4S. Francis stated that they were pleased to hear that the European Union had withdrawn all services from G4S, for which they received security provision to European parliaments, after 28 members of the EU demanded that the Parliament dropped G4S as the principal security contractor, as they continued to provide security services to illegal Israeli settlements, checkpoints and Israeli prisons at which Palestinians are detained.