Tag Archives: G4S

Imprisoned voices: Corporate complicity in the Israeli prison system

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This briefing is being published on 17 April 2015 to coincide with the annual day of solidarity with Palestinian prisoners.

It collects the memories of the pain, suffering and resilience of Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel.

In 2013, Corporate Watch visited the West Bank and Gaza Strip and interviewed released prisoners about their experiences. The 11 accounts give a glimpse of the struggles of Palestinian prisoners.

They have been collected together here to inspire readers to take action in solidarity with them and against the companies profiting from their suffering.

The first part of this briefing compiles interviews with prisoners from the Gaza Strip. The second part focuses on the West Bank. The final part summarises the companies providing equipment and services that aid the arrest and imprisonment of Palestinians and gives detailed profiles of two of the biggest culprits: G4S and Hewlett Packard.

We dedicate this briefing to all those who remain imprisoned, and to everyone living within the open air prison that is occupied Palestine.

The briefing is currently only published online. It will be available to buy in the coming weeks from www.corporatewatch.org

The story of a released Palestinian prisoner, banned from returning home

Israeli soldiers prepare to tear gas Palestinian protesters outside Ofer prison in the West Bank

Israeli soldiers prepare to tear gas Palestinian protesters outside Ofer prison in the West Bank (2013)

This interview is part of a series of articles about Palestinian prisoners and companies complicit with the Israeli prison system. 17 April 2015 is the annual global day of action for Palestinian prisoners, when solidarity activists around the world are called on to take action to highlight the abuse of Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli prison system. Both G4S and Hewlett Packard provide services to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Palestinian prisoners’ organisations have called on the global solidarity movement to pressure them to end their contracts. International companies such as Samsung, Canon, and Motorola have also provided equipment used in Israeli prisons Continue reading

Born in an Israeli prison

PIC_0232

Palestinian women and their children join the weekly sit-in in solidarity with Palestinian detainees in israeli jails – Gaza City

This interview is part of a series of articles about Palestinian prisoners and companies complicit with the Israeli prison system. 17 April 2015 is the annual global day of action for Palestinian prisoners, when solidarity activists around the world are called on to take action to highlight the abuse of political prisoners in the Israeli prison system. Both G4S and Hewlett Packard provide services to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS). Palestinian prisoners’ organisations have called on the global solidarity movement to pressure them to end their contracts.

We visited Fatima Al Zak in her home in Shuja’iyeh, a neighbourhood in Eastern Gaza City, in November 2013 to hear about her experience of giving birth and trying to bring up an infant in an Israeli prison. Fatima is one of many Palestinian prisoners who have been denied proper medical care while in prison. Continue reading

Ecotricity promises to drop G4S

By Sarah Cobham

As the bombs continued to rain down on Gaza, on Saturday 26th July, Jon Snow of Channel 4 news hosted a debate at WOMAD festival around the theme of ‘Is the UK doing enough to tackle emissions?’ On the panel of ‘experts’ sat Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, the green electricity company that sponsored this year’s festival of music and dance from around the world.

G4S rooftop banners

Banners hanging from the roof of G4S’ UK office in Crawley during a rooftop occupation by activists in 2012

An hour into the debate Mike Gurney of Exeter Palestine Solidarity Campaign questioned the relationship between environmental and human rights concerns, and spoke about Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza. He was followed by Sarah Cobham, who brought the audience’s attention to Ecotricity’s meter reading contract with G4S (a company with an appalling human rights record which provides equipment to prisons and checkpoints on behalf of the apartheid state). She asked Dale Vince “When are you are going to end your contract with G4S which has such an appalling human rights record” to a resounding round of applause.

He clearly wasn’t surprised by the question, and announced:

“We’ve been troubled by some of the things G4S have done, and are alleged to have done, and we began the transition away from G4S probably about 6 months ago. We’ve switched meter reading in the biggest region of the country for us by customers, which is the southern region as a trial for a new supplier and we’re rolling out across the country. So, the answer to your question is that it’s already begun.”(1)

A group of Palestine solidarity activists had planned to hold an action as the debate ended (calling for Ecotricity to end its contract with G4S) but given Vince’s announcement, they cancelled their action and called on those present to join them in a processions around the festival site in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

In August 2012 Corporate Watch wrote an open letter to Ecotricity, stating:

“…we urge you – on behalf of many of your concerned customers – to drop G4S Utility Services as your meter reading provider. To quote your Environmental Policy (see here http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/about-ecotricity/our-eco-credentials/our-environmental-policy), we urge you to ‘reduce the impacts of [your] own activities… by encouraging and pursuing behavioural change, from both within [your] organisation and from without’.” (2)

This followed the decision of Good Energy to stop using G4S and transfer to a different meter reading company. Ecotricity currently have some very contradictory information on their website. They state:

“We are aware that some of our customers would prefer that we didn’t use G4S Utility Services, so, for these customers we will provide an alternative meter reading agent.

“We know there are issues with G4S. They’re an enormous organisation (operating in more than 125 countries with over 657,000 employees) and parts of this huge business have undertaken activities that we do not support.”

But they also imply that they expect to have long term contract with G4S, when they also state:

“We will be using G4S Utility Services and Lowri Beck to install smart meters for all our customers within the 4 year period from January 2016 to December 2020.” (3)

Ecotricity must be held to the statement made by Dale Vince at Womad 2014, and end their contract with G4S urgently.

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skin9z7CkFc&feature=youtu.be (starts 1hr 3 mins into the video)

(2) http://corporateoccupation.org/open-letter-to-ecotricity-regarding-its-meter-reading-contract-with-g4s/

(3) https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/customer-service/give-us-a-meter-reading/meter-reading-agents

Ecotricity promises to drop G4S

By Sarah Cobham

As the bombs continued to rain down on Gaza, on Saturday 26th July, Jon Snow of Channel 4 news hosted a debate at WOMAD festival around the theme of ‘Is the UK doing enough to tackle emissions?’ On the panel of ‘experts’ sat Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, the green electricity company that sponsored this year’s festival of music and dance from around the world.

G4S rooftop banners

Banners hanging from the roof of G4S’ UK office in Crawley during a rooftop occupation by activists in 2012

An hour into the debate Mike Gurney of Exeter Palestine Solidarity Campaign questioned the relationship between environmental and human rights concerns, and spoke about Israel’s brutal attacks on Gaza. He was followed by Sarah Cobham, who brought the audience’s attention to Ecotricity’s meter reading contract with G4S (a company with an appalling human rights record which provides equipment to prisons and checkpoints on behalf of the apartheid state). She asked Dale Vince “When are you are going to end your contract with G4S which has such an appalling human rights record” to a resounding round of applause.

He clearly wasn’t surprised by the question, and announced:

“We’ve been troubled by some of the things G4S have done, and are alleged to have done, and we began the transition away from G4S probably about 6 months ago. We’ve switched meter reading in the biggest region of the country for us by customers, which is the southern region as a trial for a new supplier and we’re rolling out across the country. So, the answer to your question is that it’s already begun.”(1)

A group of Palestine solidarity activists had planned to hold an action as the debate ended (calling for Ecotricity to end its contract with G4S) but given Vince’s announcement, they cancelled their action and called on those present to join them in a processions around the festival site in solidarity with the people of Gaza.

In August 2012 Corporate Watch wrote an open letter to Ecotricity, stating:

“…we urge you – on behalf of many of your concerned customers – to drop G4S Utility Services as your meter reading provider. To quote your Environmental Policy (see here http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/about-ecotricity/our-eco-credentials/our-environmental-policy), we urge you to ‘reduce the impacts of [your] own activities… by encouraging and pursuing behavioural change, from both within [your] organisation and from without’.” (2)

This followed the decision of Good Energy to stop using G4S and transfer to a different meter reading company. Ecotricity currently have some very contradictory information on their website. They state:

“We are aware that some of our customers would prefer that we didn’t use G4S Utility Services, so, for these customers we will provide an alternative meter reading agent.

“We know there are issues with G4S. They’re an enormous organisation (operating in more than 125 countries with over 657,000 employees) and parts of this huge business have undertaken activities that we do not support.”

But they also imply that they expect to have long term contract with G4S, when they also state:

“We will be using G4S Utility Services and Lowri Beck to install smart meters for all our customers within the 4 year period from January 2016 to December 2020.” (3)

Ecotricity must be held to the statement made by Dale Vince at Womad 2014, and end their contract with G4S urgently.

(1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skin9z7CkFc&feature=youtu.be (starts 1hr 3 mins into the video)

(2) http://corporateoccupation.org/open-letter-to-ecotricity-regarding-its-meter-reading-contract-with-g4s/

(3) https://www.ecotricity.co.uk/customer-service/give-us-a-meter-reading/meter-reading-agents

A shareholder activist’s account of the G4S AGM

Protest at G4S Agm 2014

Protest at G4S Agm 2014

Submitted by a guest author who attended G4S’ AGM

The G4S AGM, on 5 June 2014, passed with predictable controversy. More than 10 protesting G4S shareholders and proxies were forcibly removed, in some instances by being dragged across the floor by their hands, and the shareholder questions were overwhelmingly focussed on G4S’ actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), HMP Oakwood and other prisons and detention facilities which G4S are involved in globally.

 The atmosphere was confrontational, verging on combative. More than 10 members of security flanked the sides of the room, leading one shareholder to tell the Board: “I haven’t been eyeballed this much since Chelsea [football matches] in the 1980s.” Another added: “this cannot be acceptable. You cannot have people being dragged out.”

When the time came for shareholders and proxies to pose questions to the Board, 26 questions were asked, of which 13 related to the OPT, significantly overshadowing the five or so questions asked on corporate issues.

Challenging the independence of the ‘Human Rights Review of G4S Israel’

I assume myself that this company has human rights at its heart. It is very deeply felt beyond that.”
Claire Spottiswoode, Chair of G4S’ CSR Committee

Many of G4S CEO Ashley Almanza’s responses on Israel and the OPT referred back to the ‘Human Rights Review of G4S Israel’ which G4S had released about 36 hours prior to the AGM. The review, written by Dr Hugo Slim and Professor Guglielmo Verdirame, held that: “It is not possible to say in any meaningful way that G4S has responsibility for any human rights violations allegedly being carried out by the State of Israel in detention, crossing points or settlements.”

This review, and particularly the independence and objectivity of its authors, was heavily challenged by shareholders and proxies. Mr Almanza had repeatedly emphasised that it was important to G4S that the authors were “independent, credible experts.” But several shareholders and proxies referred to, and quoted, sections of the review which tested this. In particular, they referred to sections which seemed to imply that Palestinians themselves are responsible for violations of their human rights (in a section entitled: ‘Palestinian Responsibility for Human Rights Risks’, p 12) and that the campaign against G4S is a “key part of a wider strategy by the Palestinian solidarity movement to delegitimize the State of Israel” (p. 2). Seemingly undermining the value of his earlier reliance on the review’s findings to absolve G4S of any responsibility for, or complicity in, human rights violations, Mr Almanza ultimately conceded that G4S does not necessarily share the view of the independent experts that it instructs.

 G4S’ contracts in the OPT and Israel

Our 7th value is ‘safety first’. We are not yet satisfied; there is more to do.”
Ashley Almanza, G4S CEO

One of the key issues that shareholders and proxies wanted addressed at the meeting was whether G4S would stand by its 2011 and 2012 commitments to withdraw from contracts involving servicing security equipment at military checkpoints, a prison and a police station in the West Bank by 2015.

Positively, G4S did confirm that it would not be renewing these contracts. However, rather than standing by its commitment to do so by 2015, Mr Almanza instead referred to three relevant contracts, which fall away at the end of 2014, 2015 and 2017, respectively. Consequently, it appears that it could now be three more years (in addition to any warranty periods, as Mr Almanza made sure to emphasise) until G4S ceases to be involved in providing services to prisons and checkpoints in the OPT, rather than one more year, in line with the 2011/2012 commitments.

Mr Almanza added, in a brief comment, that could almost have gone unnoticed, that the contract that expires in 2014, the so called ‘Framework Agreement’, applies not only to prison facilities in the West Bank but to “all facilities.” In the face of strong evidence which suggests that child Palestinian prisoners are being held within prisons in Israel, a number of shareholders and proxies pushed for more information. When expressly asked whether by ‘all facilities’ Mr Almanza meant facilities in the West Bank and Israel, Mr Almanza would only repeat that the relevant contract applied to ‘all facilities’; he provided no further details and so the extent of G4S’ commitment remains unclear.

Clearer, more specific commitments are needed

How are you going to stand up to morals and ethics as a team, by including rather than excluding, and by better engagement with those affected?”
G4S Shareholder

Although Mr Almanza’s statements about discontinuing certain G4S contracts in Israel and the OPT are positive, not enough information has yet been provided to understand the nature of G4S’ commitment, how it impacts on G4S’ involvement in Israel and the OPT, and when we can expect the commitment to be realised. Military Court Watch, an organisation which monitors the treatment of children in Israeli military detention, has argued that G4S’ statement that it will not be withdrawing for another three years “may be considered to be an aggravating rather than a mitigating circumstance in any future criminal or civil action.” Further, G4S remained silent on its continuing provision of services to businesses in illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Campaign pressure is therefore continuing. And it is achieving significant successes.

Following a substantial reduction of the Bill and Melinda Gates’ Foundation’s shareholding in G4S in May 2014, the Foundation announced, in the days following the AGM, that it has now sold its entire stake in the business. And one week ago, the largest American protestant church, the United Methodist Church, also divested from G4S, stating, with reference to its initial purchase of the shares: “if we could turn back the clock, if we knew then what we know now, we probably would have deferred the purchase until we completed our research.”

The G4S AGM has, again, introduced more questions than answers. There is now a pressing need to obtain clear and specific commitments from G4S on the timing of its exit from contracts in the West Bank, and the details of its exit from all Israeli prison contracts. Not only will G4S have to make satisfactory and timely commitments, but it will also have to fully realise them. Until this has been done, the international pressure on G4S will need to continue.

 

L-3 and Garrett supplying equipment for Gaza checkpoint

The Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint taken from the Palestinian side, photo taken in 2013  by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative,

The Beit Hanoun (Erez) checkpoint taken from the Palestinian side, photo taken in 2013 by the Beit Hanoun Local Initiative,

The Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing is the only crossing for people who want to go directly from Gaza into the 1948 borders of Israel. People wishing to cross must apply for a permit and only a small number of permits are granted. Privileged people such as foreign journalists (who are not overly critical of Israel), NGO workers, business people and politicians are often granted permits. Other people have to go through the Rafah crossing from southern Gaza into Egypt.

The Beit Hanoun crossing is subject to frequent closures by the Israeli authorities. The terminal has been closed since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank on 12 June. This closure amounts to an act of collective punuishment against everyone in Gaza by the Israeli state.

The crossing is also the only way for hundreds of sick patients to obtain treatment. Israeli military attacks have destroyed vital services in Gaza, while the Israeli siege has prevented life saving equipment from reaching services in the Strip. See Corporate Watch’s recent briefing, Besieging health services in Gaza: a profitable business, to find out more about the effects of the siege on health in Gaza.

Corporate Watch did not apply for permission to cross through the Beit Hanoun crossing as we didn’t think that it would be granted. However, we did ask an NGO worker who was crossing to take a look at the equipment used in the terminal. The NGO worker, who wished to remain anonymous told us “Coming from Israel, you first go through a private Israeli security firm check where your permit number is confirmed so that you can enter the terminal, then in the terminal you go through another Israeli security ‘border patrol’ check. Once through that you go on a long walk to the Palestinian Authority checkpoint where you’re registered, then you get into a taxi and drive just a minute to the Hamas checkpoint where another permit by the local government is checked. That’s the process for getting into Gaza.”

He told us “I saw the machine’s makes: ProVision on the full body scans, Garret on the metal detectors.”

Garrett are a US based security equipment supplier. In 2013 Corporate Watch reported that Garrett scanning equipment was being used by the police in the occupied West Bank. Garrett equipment is used by HM Court ‘Service’ in the UK. In our view, BDS campaigners should pressure HMCS to end its contract with Garrett because of its supply of security equipment used to enforce the unlawful siege of Gaza.

Corporate Watch contacted Garrett with a list of questions about the use of its equipment at the Beit Hanoun crossing but received no reply.

The PROVision scanners are manufactured by L-3. L-3 is a provider of military and security products and services. According to Who Profits it supplied body scanners to the Beit Hanoun terminal via Hashmira Israel, a security company owned by British-Danish company G4S.

Avoiding accountability: Life in Ramleh prison hospital

Akram Salameh holds up a picture of himself in prison uniform, taken inside Ramleh prison hospital

Akram Salameh holds up a picture of himself in prison uniform, taken inside Ramleh prison hospital – Photo taken by Corporate Watch, Gaza City, November 2013

Corporate Watch has been investigating the companies involved in the Israeli prison system and interviewing ex-prisoners. This interview is part of a series of articles to be released over the coming months that we hope will serve as a resource for action against companies providing equipment and services to the Israeli Prison ‘Service’ (IPS).

Palestinian organisations are calling for action on 17 April, the international day of solidarity for Palestinian political prisoners, against G4S, a British-Danish multinational company working with the IPS, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major investor in G4S. Click here to find out more. Continue reading

‘I can’t give you information about your health, it’s a security matter’: Life for a sick Palestinian prisoner in the Israeli prison complex

International action has been called for in solidarity with prisoners held in Israeli jails. Corporate Watch has been investigating the companies involved in the Israeli prison system and interviewing ex-prisoners. This interview is part of a series of articles which will be released over the coming months focusing on companies providing equipment and services to the Israeli Prison ‘Service’ (IPS).

Israeli surveillance technology overlooks Palestinian farmland in Beit Hanoun- Picture taken by Corporate Watch, November 2013

Israeli surveillance technology overlooks Palestinian farmland in Beit Hanoun- Picture taken by Corporate Watch, November 2013

We met ‘Salah’* at his home in Beit Hanoun in the Northern Gaza Strip a few weeks after his release from seven years prison in Israel. A celebration tent had been set up in his house since his release. We wanted to speak to Salah about the conditions for sick patients in Israeli jails, the particular problems for prisoners from Gaza and the complicity of international companies like G4S and Hewlett Packard in the Israeli prison system. The Ketziot prison where Salah spent some of his period of imprisonment has been receiving services from British/Danish company G4S since 2007.

The effects of Israeli air attacks are never far away in Beit Hanoun. As his sons and grandsons bring us tea to drink, Salah tells us that during the Israeli bombardment in November 2012 his grandson ‘Hisham’, who was three and a half years old, “was playing a little way away from a government building. The building was struck by an F16 and rubble hit him on the head. He was in intensive care for seven days.” We are invited to feel the soft patch in Hisham’s skull where he was injured. Salah goes on to tell us: “My son ‘Abed’, now 20 years old, was in the street when the group of boys he was with was targeted by an Apache [helicopter]. One of them was killed and 18 injured. Abed’s hand was amputated, he is seriously psychologically affected.” Continue reading

Palestinian prisoners’ association calls for the prosecution of G4S

Hussam Association, a Gaza based organisation of current and former Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails, has released the following statement calling for the prosecution of G4S. G4S, a British/Danish multinational company, holds a contract with the Israeli Prison ‘Service’ to supply Israeli jails with equipment and services:

“Hussam, the prisoners and liberated association has called human rights bodies and organisations to work on the prosecution of British company G4S that oversees security systems of the prisons of the Zionist Occupation in the West Bank.

The association has also confirmed that it will call for Arab and European human rights organisations and official bodies to take the necessary procedures to put officials of G4S company on trial, for the company’s involvement in war crimes, and crimes against humanity against Palestinian prisoners.

The association announced that it will collaborate with local and international human rights associations to expose the company and build awareness against its involvement in torturing Palestinian prisoners by providing the Israeli occupation with security systems and central observation and control units in prisons of Negev, Megiddo, Damon, Rimon and others that imprison more than 5000 Palestinian prisoners from the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem and the lands of 1948.

The association has also added that the company has installed defence systems on the walls surrounding Ofer prison in the West Bank. G4S also manages a central control unit for the centre of Ofer Military Court that trials Palestinian detainees from the West Bank, on a daily basis for arbitrary and cruel provisions.

Hussam association has also confirmed that G4S provides security systems for detention and interrogation facilities in many Israeli detention centres, where Palestinians usually face different interrogation methods that are based on physical and psychological torture; such methods has led to the death of many Palestinian prisoners since the beginning of occupation.”

For more information on G4S click here.