As political prisoners begun a mass hunger strike and Prisoners Day was marked with demonstrations in Palestine and around the world, Palestinian organisations today called for action to be taken against G4S, the British-Danish security corporation that is contracted to provide security equipment to Israeli prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are held.
A statement signed by 12 Palestinian organisations including Addameer, DCI Palestine and the Palestinian BDS National Committee said:
G4S is the British-Danish security company whose Israeli subsidiary signed a contract in 2007 with the Israeli Prison Authority to provide security systems for major Israeli prisons. G4S provided systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel in contravention of international law. The company also provided equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities, at which human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill-treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. G4S continues to provide equipment to Israeli prisons.
In light of the increasing campaign of civil disobedience from within the prisons, we demand accountability for all corporations that both enable and directly profit from Israel’s continued violations of Palestinian prisoners’ rights being committed with impunity.
Amid hunger strikes and the highly publicized prisoner exchange deal in October, Palestinian prisoners’ issues have gained recent attention in international spheres. However, despite this increased focus and the criticisms of these practices by United Nations bodies, there has been no institutional changes made by Israel in regard to the human rights violations being committed against Palestinian political prisoners and detainees. In an attempt to counter Israel’s unwillingness to change its policies and the lack of accountability for its countless human rights violations, alternative measures such as preventing participation by companies such as the G4S proves to be one of the few remaining effective steps towards pressuring Israel to comply with international law. It is time overdue to break this chain of international complicity.
The statement also welcomed the news that the European Union has decided not to renew a contract with G4S following a campaign by members of the European Parliament and Palestine solidarity organisations that counted former EU Parliament President Jerzy Buzek among its supporters. G4S had provided security services to the European Parliament buildings since 2008.
Activists and local politicians in Malmo in Sweden and Copenhagen in Denmark are currently working to pressure local authorities not to renew lucrative contracts with the company, and similar campaigns are being planned elsewhere in Europe. In October 2011, the Edinburgh University Student Association (EUSA) passed a motion blocking its contract with G4S.
As well as for its support for Israeli Apartheid, G4S has also come under fire from campaign groups for its abuse of workers rights in countries across the world and its controversial role in the UK asylum and deportation system. Refused Angolan asylum seeker Jimmy Mubenga died after being “restrained” by G4S guards during a deportation flight in October 2010. Palestine solidarity activists subsequently joined members of the Justice for Jimmy Mubenga campaign outside a G4S shareholders’ meeting in London.