G4S is the world’s largest security firm and, with almost 700,000 employees, the third largest pri-vate sector employer. A British-Danish company headquartered in the UK, the firm has operations in more than 125 countries providing security services to government facilities, airport security, custodial and prison services, as well as land mine clearance and consultancy services. Due mainly to a number of mergers in the last decade, the size, reach and activities of G4S are of increasing concern as it becomes apparent that the company is operating as a privatised police force in many countries, handling many jobs that one would usually suppose were in the remit of the regular, civilian police.
G4S’s rise is indicative of two of the most worrying aspects of neoliberal capitalism and Israeli apartheid; the ideology of “security” and the increasing privatisation of what have been traditionally state run sectors. Security, in this context, does not imply security for everyone, but rather, when one looks at the major clients of G4S Security (banks, governments, corporations etc) it becomes evident that when G4S says it is “Securing your World”, as the company slogan goes, it is referring to a world of exploitation, repression, occupation and racism. Those without the money and the power are evidently seen either as not worthy of security, or as the threats which G4S’s clients require to be secured against.
Despite becoming a signatory of the UN’s Global Compact in 2011, by which it commits to support-ing human rights in its operations, G4S is complicit in many Human Rights violations. Examples of such violations, in Palestine and abroad, are given below.
G4S: SUBCONTRACTOR OF THE ISRAELI OCCUPATION
In Occupied Palestine in particular, G4S is involved in human rights abuses and violations of interna-tional law through the security and custodial services which it provides to the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF). Through its subsidiary G4S Israel (Hashmira) it provides:
• equipment for Israeli-run Checkpoints and terminals in the West Bank and Gaza, including lug-gage scanning machines and full body scanners
• security systems to the Israeli armoured corps base of Nachshonim
• (and operates) the entire security system of the Ktziot Prison, the central control room of the Megido Prison and security services to Damon prison.
• The Ktziot, Megido and Damon Prisons, located inside Israel, are incarceration facilities desig-nated for Palestinian political prisoners.
• G4S Israel clearly indicates in its website that it operates in prisons which hold "security prison-ers", that is Palestinian political prisoners.
• peripheral defense systems on the walls surrounding the Ofer prison and operates a central control room for the entire Ofer compound.
• Ofer is an Israeli prison for Palestinian political prisoners, located in the West Bank, near the settlement of Givat Ze'ev.
• The prison populates 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners and includes a military court which judges detainees from the West bank on a daily basis.
• security services to businesses in illegal settlements, including security equipment and personnel to shops and supermarkets in the West bank settlements of Modi'in Illit, Ma'ale Adumim, Har Adar and the settlement neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem .
Israel’s record with regards to Palestinian prisoners is atrocious, with most tried in military court, in unfair trials, in which military orders take precedence (illegally) over Israeli and International Law, and some Palestinian prisoners are not charged or tried. Judges in the military courts are military officers in regular or reserve service. Many of the judges served previously as military prosecutors, while the prosecutors themselves are Israeli soldiers in regular or reserve service appointed to the position by the Area Commander. Such a system is contrary to the most basic standards of due process, and gives Palestinians detained by the IOF very little chance of receiving anything even vaguely resembling a fair trial.
G4S's operation of Israeli Prison Service is a clear breach of international law: Articles 49 and 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention specifically forbid the transfer of an occupied population (Palestini-ans) into the territory of the occupying power (Israel). Palestinians are also subjected to torture by Israeli forces, and G4S transfers Palestinians to and from interrogation/ torture centres. Such breaches of international humanitarian law can be considered war crimes. G4S’s complicity in the violations of the human rights of these prisoners is undeniable, and demonstrates a direct violation of their commitments under the UN Global Compact and of international law.
Similarly its operations in illegal settlements demonstrate its complete disregard for international law when it has the chance to increase its profits. Israeli Settlements are illegal under International Law, and the UN as well as the International Court of Justice have frequently stated that they constitute grave breaches of the 4th Geneva Convention. Yet Israel continues to build new settlements and expends older settlements, stealing Palestinian land and resources. While G4S profits from “securing” these illegal settlements, the IOF restricts Palestinian movement and violently repress any dissent in the name of “security”.
G4S:HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES INTER-NATIONALLY
G4S's breaches of basic standards of human rights is not restricted to Occupied Palestine but ex-pands to the most diverse areas or repression and abuse.
Afghanistan and Iraq:
A G4S subsidiary - G4S Armor Group - a bodyguard company holds controversial US contracts in Afghanistan and in Iraq (acquired 2008). One former British employee, Danny Fitzsimmons, was jailed in Iraq for 20 years after killing two colleagues and attempting to murder an Iraqi in 2011. The US Senate accused the company of relying “on a series of warlords to provide armed men” who were engaged in murder and bribery .
Over 700 complaints have been filed against G4S over the treatment of detainees, of which 130 were upheld. There have been 48 assault complaints. There has been particular criticism of the treatment of detainees held at Brook House Immigration Removal Centre near Heathrow . In 2010 it lost a Home Office forcible deportation contract after the death of an Angolan deportee, Jimmy Mubenga, while being restrained on a flight back to Angola. A report by the Commons Home Affairs Committee condemned G4S over its treatment and said the number of complaints likely did not reflect the true number of cases of abuse. Another report by John Grayson reveals G4S activity in South Yorkshire which has attracted complaints from academics . Among proposals it reveals G4S bidding to take over asylum housing across Yorkshire with plans to evict 900 asylum seekers families as part of the package .
In 2007, the Western Australia Human Rights Commission concluded G4S drivers locked detainees in a scorching van without food or drink, leaving one man so dehydrated one drank his own urine. G4S was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. In 2008, an aboriginal man in G4S custody of died of heat stroke after being driven through the desert in a metal pod behind a prisoner van. It was so hot inside, the man was severely burned, where his skin touched the metal floor. G4S was fined $285,000.
G4S IN BRAZIL
Evidently G4S's sole concern is profit, and because of that their huge and growing reach across the world is a serious issue for those wishing to defend human rights. In the last two years G4S has be-gun to make inroads into the Brazilian market, initially through the purchase of Plantech and In-stalarme in 2010, two security technology companies, as it could not directly enter the manned se-curity market due to legislation.
On the purchase of Instalarme Nick Buckles, G4S CEO said “Instalarme represents an excellent opportunity to enter the substantial and growing Brazilian security market and immediately establish our pedigree in the country…[Instalarme will] give us a strong platform from which to maximise the long-term potential of the Brazilian security market.”
G4S have expressed their expectation of significant profit boosts in Brazil in 2014 and 2016 due to the World Cup and the Olympics, and their entry into the Brazilian market is likely in anticipation of the security contracts for these events, and G4S aim to win 150 contracts related to these events
G4S's current security contracts with other Brazilian companies include:
• Infrareo (a public enterprise linked to the Ministry of Defense, which manages 97% of Bra-zilian air traffice. G4S is contracted for R$ 4,9 million to provide software to monitor the passenger flow in 32 Brazilian airports.)
• Banco do Brasil (Largest Brazilian and Latin American bank by assets: $547 billion. Managed by Brazilian government but stock traded on Brazilian stock exchange)
• Caixa (the largest government-owned financial institution in Latin America. It is one of the largest banks in Brazil and in Latin America by assets. the manager of most Brazilian lotter-ies, especially the most popular ones, such as Mega-Sena, Quina and Loteca (former Loteria Esportiva). The profits of Brazilian state (federal) lotteries are reverted to amateur sport promotion and elementary education.)
• Banco do Nordeste (over 90% of its capital under the control of the Federal Government. Responsible for the largest microfinance program in South America and second in Latin America, CrediAmigo, through which the Bank lends money to microentrepreneurs)
• Banrisul (the largest bank in Southern Brazil and operates primarily in the state of Rio Grande do Sul)
• Bradesco (One of the largest banks and financial institutions in Brazil. Total assets $432 bil-lion.)
• Ambev (the largest brewery in Latin America. Largest Pepsi bottler outside USA)
• Embraer (Brazil’s top exporter of industrial products. 4th largest aircraft maker in the world and involved in various joint ventures with Israeli arms company Elbit )
• Petrobras (the largest company in the Southern Hemisphere by market capitalization and the largest in Latin America measured by 2011 revenues. Sponsor of River Plate football team in Argentina)
G4S AND THE GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR BOYCOTT, DIVESTMENT AND SANCTIONS (BDS)
In 2005 Palestinian civil society issued the call for a campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law .
On April 17 – Palestinian Prisoners Day – the Palestinian BDS National Committee and Palestin-ian human rights organizations have launched a call for a concerted BDS campaign against G4S in a joint statement asserting that: “In an attempt to counter Israel’s unwillingness to change its policies and the lack of accountability for its countless human rights violations, alternative measures such as preventing participation by companies such as the G4S prove to be one of the few remaining effective steps towards pressuring Israel to comply with international law. It is time overdue to break this chain of international complicity.”
Given the potential of G4S to monopolise and privatise the vast majority of the global security sector, and G4S's repeated human rights abuses, in Palestine and elsewhere, it is essential that a campaign be immediately launched to dissuade concerned parties from awarding these con-tracts to the company. As the Olympics and the World Cup are going to be events mainly for those who have money to pay for expensive tickets, any G4S “security” operations will be purely aimed at keeping those without the money from entering.
Similar campaigns for the boycott of G4S are currently being launched in Europe and a cohesive global campaign against this multinational will be the most effective way to counter its growing presence and influence, and to challenge its contempt for Humanitarian and International Law in Palestine and elsewhere.
We therefore call for Brazilian activists to join us in fighting not only G4S’s complicity in the vio-lation of Palestinians’ rights, but also against the globalization and capitalist monopolization of the custodial and security sector, and against the protection of capitalist and governmental in-stitutions from popular dissent, which the rise of G4S represents.
Take action now … and don’t forget:
The World Social Forum- Free Palestine, between 28th November and 1st December 2012 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, will be an important opportunity to discuss strategies for advancing the Palestinian call for BDS, and to discuss particularly the case of G4S.