The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has bought a 3 percent stake in the British-Danish security firm G4S worth £110 million ($172 million), the UK’s Guardian reported just days after protestors made the company’s role in human rights abuses in Palestine and beyond the focus at the firm’s annual meeting.
The Gates Foundation’s motto “We believe every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life” is difficult to reconcile with G4S’s complicity in human rights violations.
Palestinian human rights organizations Addameer and Defence for Children International-Palestine Section have reported many cases of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, solitary confinement and isolation of Palestinian detainees in Israel’s G4S-secured prisons and interrogation centers. Last February, young Palestinian father Arafat Jaradat died in Megiddo prison after being interrogated by Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, also known as the Shabak. G4S provides security services to Megiddo prison.
G4S shows no intention of ending its involvement with Israel’s prison system, though the transfer of Palestinian prisoners from the occupied West Bank and Gaza into Israel is illegal under international law and constitutes a war crime. Israel’s detention of the majority of the approximately 5,000 Palestinian political prisoners inside Israel, including 236 children, is therefore unlawful. However, the company will not end its servicing of security and surveillance equipment contracts with these prisons, G4S media relations manager Piers Zangana recently told Danish financial watchdog Danwatch.
Zangana also confirmed that G4S is also continuing its contracts with private and commercial clients in Israeli settlements. As Israel’s transfer of its own civilian population to settlements in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, G4S is helping to maintain an illegal situation by delivering services to clients in the settlements.
Dutch charity rejects G4S money
Instead of investing in G4S, the Gates Foundation should follow the example of three Dutch charities who refuse to play in role in G4S’s attempts to whitewash its image.
Today, Dutch charity War Child Holland announced it will no longer accept sponsorship from G4S in a conversation on twitter with @hoterminus. At the end of December, the Hotel Terminus blog reported that Dutch charities Jantje Beton and the Food Bank in Utrecht decided to refuse future donations from G4S over its role in Israel’s detention of Palestinian children. The news was then reported by mainstream media in the Netherlands.
In its Dutch-language tweets, War Child Holland states its decision is based on the organization’s commitment to child rights and therefore it cannot accept donations from a company which is “securing prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held, possibly also children.” War Child Holland mentions that it informed G4S about its decision immediately after Dutch media reported on Jantje Beton’s decision to refuse future funding from G4S.