G4S sells controversial Israeli security arm accused of complicity in human rights abuses of Palestinian prisoners

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NGO rejoinder
13 June 2017

LPHR's statement on G4's reponse dated 31 May 2017

Author: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights

The G4S response to our statement dated 23 May 2017 is appallingly and regrettably deceptive. For a company that claims to "takes it human rights responsibilities seriously", it is shocking that it has chosen to repeat the misleading public framing that led the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP) itself to critically state in July 2016 that G4S has been "selective and misleading" in its response to their serious findings. In order to correct the record on behalf of G4S, we do strongly suggest that G4S' Corporate Director, Debbie Walker, closely read Paragraphs 23-27 of the UK NCP Follow-Up statement published on 7 July 2016 (bolded and italicised by LPHR for emphasis)…

24….the UK NCP notes that G4S’s public response to the UK NCP’s findings and recommendations was an early opportunity to signal the seriousness of its intention to address them. It is disappointing that G4S did not take this opportunity.

25. For the avoidance of doubt, the UK NCP re-iterates that its Final Statement found actions of G4S to be inconsistent with its obligation under Chapter IV, Paragraph 3 of the OECD Guidelines to address [adverse human rights] impacts it is linked to by a business relationship. This finding was unqualified…

27. The UK NCP additionally notes its observation in Paragraph 76. of the Final Statement that: 'Until G4S publicly communicates the actions it is taking to address the [adverse human rights] impacts it is linked to by the contracts referred to in the complaint, the UK NCP considers that its actions are not consistent with its obligation under Chapter IV, Paragraph 3 of the OECD Guidelines to address [adverse human rights] impacts it is linked to by a business relationship.

G4S' acutely concerning approach to selectively and misleadingly represent the UK NCP's findings has been illustrated by LPHR in a comparison table, which sets out the text of the UK NCP’s Conclusions, extracted directly from the UK NCP’s Follow-Up Statement, against the text of G4S’ Statement dated 7 July 2016 on those conclusions.

Download the full document here

Survey response
31 May 2017

G4S' response to LPHR's statement on ommission of findings of adverse human rights abuses in their 2017 CSR report

Author: G4S

G4S replied to our invitation to respond to LPHR’s statement dated 23 May 2017, published ahead of the company’s AGM. G4S notes that the findings from the UK NCP’s final statement on LPHR’s complaint were covered in their 2015 and 2016 CSR reports. G4S would like to refer to their statement issued in response to the UK NCP’s final statement on 7 July 2016 which states (here):

'After a 17 month investigation beginning in 2014, the NCP stated clearly in its Final Statement in June 2015, that:

The UK NCP has not found any general failure by the company to respect the human rights of the people on whose behalf the complaint is made, or any failure to respect human rights in regard to its own operations.

In the same Final Statement the NCP also stated that:

None of the information reviewed by the UK NCP suggested that G4S staff or equipment play a direct part in these [human rights] impacts.

In response to the NCP’s Follow up Statement, Debbie Walker, G4S Corporate Affairs Director said:

G4S Israel operates a responsible business that complies with local and international laws and respects human rights. G4S is pleased that, following an extensive review, the NCP confirmed that it has not found any failure to respect human rights in regard to G4S Israels operations.

G4S takes its human rights obligations seriously and is committed to respecting andsupporting the rights of those who live and work in the communities where we operate. The group supports the UN Global Compact and has worked to embed the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into its organisation since 2013. '

G4S also states that they would respond to queries by LPHR if these concern new issues.

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Item
31 May 2017

LPHR statement on G4S' striking omission of adverse human rights findings in its latest CSR report ahead of its Annual General Meeting

Author: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, London

In the run up to the G4S Annual General Meeting taking place on 25 May 2017, LPHR notes the striking omission in G4S' latest corporate social responsibility report to any reference to the UK National Contact Point's (UK NCP) critical Follow-Up Statement last June that found the company to be in continuing breach of its human rights obligations in regard to contracted activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

In the human rights section of G4S' 2016 CSR report, all that is stated in relation to current human rights challenges is the following (which is replicated in the report statement of CSR Committee Chair, Clare Spottiswoode):

"This report does not include a section on current [human rights] issues as (at the time of writing) there are no further developments or new issues to report."

This clearly appears to be an inaccurate and misleading statement to shareholders and other stakeholders which raises significant transparency concerns...

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Article
5 April 2017

FIMI Opportunity Funds did not reply

Item
3 April 2017

Clarification on FIMI Opportunity Funds pending acquisition of G4S Israel

Author: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, London

We acknowledge the announcement by G4S plc, on 2 December 2016, that it has reached an agreement on the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds. We have welcomed the decision to sell G4S Israel as being an act in accordance with G4S’ business and human rights responsibilities. The sale follows the 2015 adverse findings made by the UK National Contact Point (UK NCP) in relation to G4S' involvement with human rights violations in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt). We note that G4S made no reference in its press release to the UK NCP's adverse findings against the company. It is therefore unclear whether FIMI is aware that G4S’ activities in Israel and the oPt have been found to be in breach of human rights obligations, or how FIMI will address such issues following its acquisition of G4S Israel...

We have seen no public assurance from FIMI that it will seek to address the human rights violations at Israeli prisons and detention centres, and at military checkpoints, including along the separation barrier. This omission, combined with the evidence that is has agreed to buy G4S Israel following the UK NCP's adverse findings, does raise initial serious concerns over whether FIMI has carried out adequate pre-acquisition due diligence, and whether it is giving appropriate consideration to its own business and human rights responsibilities. Given this please confirm:

  • Whether you were already aware of the findings that G4S’s activities in Israel and the oPt was in breach of human rights obligations; and
  • How you will seek to address the human rights violations at Israeli prisons and detention centres, and at military checkpoints, including along the separation barrier that are linked to the services provided by G4S Israel?

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Item
28 March 2017

Clarification on G4S’ activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory

Author: Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights, London

We write to request an update on G4S’ activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).

We acknowledge your announcement, on 2 December 2016, that G4S has reached an agreement on the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds (FIMI) and we welcome the decision to sell G4S Israel as being an act in accordance with G4S’ business and human rights responsibilities.

However, we note that G4S made no reference in its press release to the UK National Contact Point’s (UK NCP) 2015 adverse findings against the company, and nor did it clearly set out the extent to which G4S would continue to be involved in the provision of services to Israeli state agencies that were the subject of our complaint to the UK NCP in 2013...

As you are aware, in the UK NCP’s most recent comments on the complaint against G4S, in July 2016, it stated:

‘Until G4S publicly communicates the actions it is taking to address the impacts it is linked to by the contracts…the UK NCP considers that its actions are not consistent with its obligation….to address [human rights] impacts it is linked to be a business relationship.’

Despite the UK NCP’s latest comments, there is still no clarity as to the extent of G4S’ ongoing involvement in activities that have adverse human rights impacts in Israel and the oPt. Given this, please confirm:

1- whether, after the completion of the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI, G4S will continue to provide any of the services that were the subject of LPHR's 2013 business and human rights complaint to the UK NCP; and

2- whether, you alerted FIMI Opportunity Funds to the UK NCP's findings of a breach of human rights obligations in relation to G4S' activities in Israel and the oPt?

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Company response
28 March 2017

G4S Response to LPHR Clarification Questions on the Sale of G4S Secure Solutions Israel

Author: G4S

The statement made by G4S on the agreement with FIMI (dated 02/12/16), set out clearly what business interests G4S would retain in Israel if the sale is approved – see below. This is the only business which would be retained by the company.

“G4S will retain a presence in Israel through ownership and continued investment in the flagship national police training centre in partnership with FIMI and Shikun & Binui, a major Israeli infrastructure and real estate group.”

We do not comment on specific commercial discussions with acquirers of businesses; however information regarding the NCP process is in the public domain and readily accessible by anyone.

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Article
2 December 2016

Agreement reached on sale of G4S Secure Solutions (Israel) Ltd (“G4S Israel”)

Author: G4S, press release

2 Dec 2016

G4S…announces that it has reached agreement on the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds (FIMI) for an estimated net consideration of NIS425m (equivalent to £88m(1))…FIMI is a premier Israeli private equity fund.G4S will retain a presence in Israel through ownership and continued investment in the flagship national police training centre Policity in partnership with FIMI and Shikun & Binui, a major Israeli infrastructure and real estate group…The sale is subject to government and customary regulatory approvals…G4S Israel provides manned security and security systems across Israel…Ashley Almanza, G4S Group Chief Executive Officer said: “The sale of our business in Israel is part of our active portfolio management programme…G4S Israel is a well-managed business that will grow and prosper as part of the FIMI group…”

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Article
2 December 2016

G4S sells off Israeli security arm after pressure groups’ protest

Author: Clare Hutchinson, Evening Standard (UK)

g4s-israelprotest.jpg

2 Dec 2016

G4S today sold off its Israeli security business for £88 million in a victory for pressure groups who have long campaigned against the company’s controversial operations in the country. The world’s biggest security firm said Israeli private-equity company FIMI will buy G4S Israel, which provides services and equipment to prisons, checkpoints and police. G4S denies accusations of complicity in human rights abuses of Palestinian prisoners, including torture, triggering action from the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. G4S announced in 2013 that it would pull out of key contracts in Israel and has denied the decision is related to anti-Israel pressure...boss Ashley Almanza reiterated the sale was part of the 2013 plan to “improve our strategic focus and capital discipline”...War on Want’s Ryvka Barnard said G4S remains complicit in human rights abuses through its ownership of and investment in the facility. 

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Article
2 December 2016

LPHR statement on G4S announcement of agreement to sell G4S Israel

Author: Lawyer for Palestinian Human Rights, London

On Friday 2 December, G4S announced that it had reached an agreement on the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds...LPHR notes that G4S makes no reference in its press release to the fact that this entity has been heavily implicated in a successful business and human rights complaint that was initiated by LPHR in 2013. Nor does it clearly set out the extent to which G4S will continue, post-sale, to be involved in the provision of services to Israeli state agencies that were the subject of that complaint.The culmination of this complaint last year saw the the UK NCP find that G4S was in breach of its business and human rights obligations under the OECD Guidelines...G4S' press release further omits reference to G4S Israel providing services and equipment in the occupied Palestinian territory...fails to provide any comfort that FIMI Opportunity Funds conducted any, or adequate, human rights due diligence prior to the purchase or that it will take appropriate steps to remedy the UK NCP’s findings that some of the activities that G4S Israel undertakes are in breach of fundamental business and human rights obligations...Although we welcome the decision to sell G4S Israel as being an act in accordance with its business and human rights responsibilities, we do remain seriously concerned that, up until now, G4S has still not publicly acknowledged the extent of its breach of its human rights obligations as determined by the UK NCP. This disturbing failure prompted the UK NCP to publicly reprimand G4S earlier this year for being 'selective and misleading' in its public response to the business watchdog's significant findings. LPHR will monitor the sale process of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds...

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