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UK Trade body investigation into G4S over alleged Israeli human rights abuses

UK registered security firm G4S under scrutiny over allegations of human rights abuses at secure facilities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

3 June 2014

A UK Government trade body is to investigate UK registered security firm G4S after complaints were made into human rights abuses at secure facilities in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory where G4S provides services and equipment.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) provide guidelines for multinational enterprises for responsible business conduct which governments encourage companies to observe wherever in the World they operate.

Leigh Day, on behalf of the legal charity ‘Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights’, submitted the complaints of serious human rights concerns in relation to military checkpoints associated with the Separation Barrier in the West Bank, the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip and within Israeli prison facilities.

G4S and their Israeli subsidiary companies provide, install and maintain equipment within these facilities. The UK National Contact Point for the OECD accepted that parts of the complaint are substantiated and therefore require further examination under the following OECD Guidelines:

1. Respect internationally recognised human rights of persons affected by their activities (Chapter II paragraph 2 of the Guidelines);
2. Avoid infringing on the human rights of others and addresses adverse human rights impacts in which it is involved (Chapter IV paragraph 1 of the Guidelines); and
3. Prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts directly linked to its business operations (Chapter IV paragraph 3 of the Guidelines).

Leigh Day lawyer, Shubhaa Srinivasan said: “These complaints have been submitted with what we believe is clear evidence of serious human rights concerns relating to the facilities in which G4S is engaged.”

“The complaints include allegations of torture and cruel and degrading treatment pertaining to the detention and imprisonment of children at Israeli prison facilities. A full examination needs to take place into what this British based company is involved with and its corporate behaviour investigated.”

Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights Director, Tareq Shrourou said:

“We welcome this Initial Assessment and the NCP's acknowledgement that there are serious issues raised by our complaint which warrant further examination. We look forward to further engaging with G4S PLC as the matter proceeds and hope that the process will contribute to a positive transformation of the human rights situation for Palestinians adversely impacted by the company's activities.

"Considered utilisation of the OECD evidence-based mediation, investigation and accountability process falls squarely within our heightened social responsibility as lawyers to protect and promote fundamental rights and the rule of law.” 

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