Private security company G4S has been nominated for the notorious Public Eye “worst company of the year” award over its support for Israeli apartheid and involvement in other human rights violations.
G4S provides services and equipment to Israel’s prisons, checkpoints, police and the apartheid wall in the West Bank. It has also come under fire for its role in Iraq and Afghanistan and for failing to prevent abuse by its staff working in the UK deportation system.
Public voting will now decide whether G4S or one of the six other shortlisted companies will be presented with the final award at a counter-summit during the World Economic Forum in Davos. Switzerland. Voting closes at midday on 23 January (click here to vote). Last year, the Brazilian mining company Vale had its dismal envrironmental and workers’ rights record exposed by media outlets across the world after winning the award with just over 25,000 votes.
This is the first time that the jury for the Public Eye Awards, which are run by Greenpeace and Berne Declaration (a Swiss organization) has selected a company that has been nominated partly for supporting Israeli crimes for the final round of voting.
Samer Issawi’s inspiring hunger strike, which is now approaching its 170th day, serves as a powerful reminder of how Israel uses imprisonment and of the steadfastness of the thousands of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails.
Israel depends on the support of companies like G4S to maintain its prison system. In 2007, G4S signed a contract with the Israeli Prison Service to provide security systems and other services for major Israeli prisons.
G4S equips the Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank and the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons inside Israel to which Palestinian prisoners are illegally transferred. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of prisoners from a territory under occupation into the territory of the occupier. The company also provides equipment to the Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, in which systematic torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners, have been documented.
In a statement issued to The Electronic Intifada, the Palestinian prisoner support and campaign organization Addameer said, “Addameer views the current campaign as an effective means of highlighting the complicity of G4S in Israel’s continued occupation and colonization of Palestine. By providing the security infrastructure for a number of prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held, G4S plays a direct role in implementing Israel’s policy of mass detention and imprisonment of the Palestinian people, which is necessary to maintain its continued occupation and colonization. As part of global civil society we have a responsibility to expose G4S and countless human rights violations it is involved in, not only in Palestine, but across the globe.”
Ruth Tanner, campaigns director with War on Want, one of several groups that nominated G4S for the award, added that, “G4S, the world’s largest private military and security company, is complicit in Israel’s occupation of Palestine and is profiting from conflict and insecurity around the world. War on Want, along with a host of justice for Palestine campaigners across Europe, have nominated G4S for the Public Eye awards to put a spotlight on the company’s complicity with the occupation. The attention this brings will help us to highlight the ongoing hunger strikes by Palestinian political prisoners.”
There are campaigns against G4S over its support for Israeli crimes in several European countries including Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the UK and Belgium. Several public bodies, nongovernmental organizations and private companies have already been succesfully persuaded to cut their ties to the company. Back in December, the University of Oslo announced that it would not be renewing its security contract with G4S after a student-led campaign.
It would become significantly harder for public and private bodies to maintain their links with G4S should the company win the award or recieve a large number of votes. It would also be a further embarrasment for the company which has already faced negative press over its human rights record and failure to meet the terms of contracts agreed with the UK and other governments.
Please make sure you take a minute to vote and share the voting page widely between now and 23 January.