Nominated for the Public Eye People’s Award 2013
by War On Want, www.waronwant.org
Largest Private Army in the World: the ranks of the British security service company G4S include more than 650'000 employees. These security forces are often badly trained and paid and many of its members have a criminal record. The company operates in 125 countries and is the world’s second largest private employer in the world and is involved in countless cases of violations of international law and human rights abuses. G4S is present in the occupied Palestinian territories—manning checkpoints and managing prison security for Israel and is thus complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement policy and the torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons. G4S is also on record for several deaths that occurred during forcible deportations by G4S personnel. The company is also active in other regions of conflict, often serving repressive regimes such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Bahrain or Saudi-Arabia.
- Main Office: Crawley, UK
- Industry: security services
- Revenue / Net Income: 7,5 billion £ / 531 million £
- Owned by: publicly owned
- Employees: more than 657’000
- President Board of Directors: John Connolly
- CEO: Nick Buckles
- Website: www.g4s.com
Irresponsible Corporate Behavior
Palestinian prisoners: G4S is complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine through the supply of security equipment and services for use at checkpoints, illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, and it helps to maintain and profit from Israel’s prison system. Palestinian political prisoners face systematic torture and ill-treatment during their arrest and detention at the hands of the Israeli military and are frequently and unjustifiably denied family and lawyer visits.
In 2007, The Israeli subsidiary of G4S signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems for major Israeli prisons. G4S provides systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel. The company also provides 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 provides security services to several «security» prisons at which Palestinian prisoners are regularly subjected to torture and ill-treatment. At Al Jalame prison, Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks.
Israel is forbidden to transfer Palestinian prisoners from occupied territories to prisons inside Israel by Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Despite this, thousands of Palestinian prisoners are unlawfully held in prisons inside Israel. By providing equipment to these prisons, G4S is actively participating in these violations of international law.
G4S is involved in other aspects of the Israeli apartheid and occupation regime: it has provided equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal Wall and to the terminals isolating the occupied territory of Gaza. G4S has also signed contracts for equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and to private businesses.
Private Military: G4S CEO Nick Buckles has said that such high risk environments offer «big opportunities» and confirmed that the corporation had recently conducted preparatory work with oil and gas companies for contracts in Iraq. G4S also extended its contract in Afghanistan just last month in a deal understood to be worth £72 million.
In August 2009 Ex-soldier Danny Fitzsimonswas hired by ArmorGroup (G4S) and sent out to Iraq without the company conducting a full medical assessment. Danny has been diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in May 2008 having experienced some horrific incidents in his military and private military career. Within 36 hours Danny had shot and killed two colleagues during an argument. He is now serving a 20 year jail term in an Iraqi jail.
Immigrant detention: G4S also plays a direct role in running the UK’s immigrant detention centers and Home Office deportations. In October 2010 Jimmy Mubenga died during his forcible deportation by G4S to Angola. But in July this year the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute G4S or its security guards for his death. In response to the decision, Jimmy Mubenga’s wife stated: «We can’t understand why the officers and G4S are not answerable to the law as we or any other member of the public would be.»
Other frequent reports concerned the use of racist language by detention security guards, such as “black bitch” and “black monkey, go back to your own country”. Moreover, there was evidence that complaints procedures for reporting assaults were complex and not independent, evidence of abuse often covered up, with police not seeming to take reports seriously.
Miserable working conditions: The company's outsourcing model depends on cost-cutting, and the first cost is invariably the staff. In the UK, complaints have been made against G4S detention centers for being under-staffed, leading to detainees missing medical and court appointments. Whistleblowers have accused the company of not providing adequate training to security guards 'escorting' refugees on mass deportation flights.
And as it expands into «developing markets», the majority of its employees' wages are sliding further away from their bosses in the UK. For example, security guards in Nepal and South Korea recently went on strike to protest against G4S' low levels of pay, while an investigation by Malawi's Sunday Times newspaper found that wages paid by G4S “raised questions about the survival mechanisms employees use to see themselves and their families through each month.”
G4S is a key player in the dangerous and unaccountable trend towards the outsourcing of state functions to corporations. As one American commentator described it ‘every prisoner a profit centres, every immigrant a business opportunity’. At the most extreme end of the spectrum what we are seeing is the privatization of war and the outsourcing of government functions without proper regulations or democratic oversight. G4S is being deployed in conflict zones in place of ‘official’ ground troops. The privatization of war means that today G4S is profiting from conflict and political instability at the expense of security and human rights across the world.
Current State and Demands
Despite facing hundreds of accusations of human rights abuses in conflict situations around the world, security companies like G4S remain unaccountable and unregulated. War on Want believes it is crucial to act now to rein in the power of this murky industry. Rather than leading the way in outsourcing wars to companies like G4S, governments must end the privatization of war and hold these companies to account.
Nominating and supporting organisations (incomplete listing)
War On Want, www.waronwant.org
Boykot G4S, boykotg4s.wordpress.com
Boycot Isreal Network, www.boycottisraelnetwork.net
Corporate Watch UK, www.corporatewatch.org.uk
Jews for Justice for Palestinians, www.jfjfp.com
Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK), www.palestinecampaign.org