Prison Contractor G4S Boycott

More than 200 trade unions and campaign groups from 23 countries have called on the UN to cancel its contracts with G4S over the security firm’s track participation in human rights abuses against Palestinians. The call comes at a time when Israel has stepped up its ill-treatment of hunger strikers, some of whom are held in G4S-equipped prisons.

G4S is a British private security company that acts as a key contractor for Israel’s apartheid regime, providing services and equipment to the police force and prison service, as well as military checkpoints and settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian political prisoners have in recent years held a series of hunger strikes to resist the use of arbitrary detention and torture in the prisons that G4S helps Israel to run.

A letter sent to Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations’ secretary-general, by campaigners details how G4S also has a long and documented track record of participation in human rights and workers’ rights abuses elsewhere in the world, especially in prisons and migrant detention centres it has run in the US, the UK and South Africa.

The UN’s own data shows it has spent more than $22 million on services provided by G4S in 2014.

That included 37 separate contracts to provide guards and other security services in Jordan — more than in any other country — and security services for UN projects and offices in Morocco, Lebanon, Austria and the UK.

As the letter sent to Ban notes, such extensive cooperation with G4S seems to be completely out of step with the UN’s own procurement guidelines, which state that “the UN expects its suppliers to support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights and to ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.”

A report by Richard Falk, then a UN special rapporteur on Palestine, calling for a boycott of G4S over its role in Israeli human rights violations was approved by the UN General Assembly in 2012.

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