UK: NGOs condemn decision by OECD Natl. Contact Point to reject complaint against G4S over its alleged involvement with Guantanamo Bay

In August 2014 Reprieve submitted an OECD complaint against G4S to the UK OECD National Contact Point.  The complaint was lodged after G4S's US subsidiary signed a contract to provide "janitorial services" to Guantanamo Bay.  Reprieve alleged that by providing services to Guantanamo Bay G4S "may contribute to the ongoing human rights violations" at the prison for terrorism suspects.

In January 2015 the NCP released an Initial Assessment rejecting the complaint saying that "It considers that UK handling is not appropriate and recommends that the complaint is submitted to the US National Contact Point"

UK campaigners condemned the decision.  See details below along with a statement by G4S.

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Article
13 January 2015

Full text: "Initial Assessment by the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises"

Author: UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

This publication reports the assessment of a complaint by a UK civil society body against a UK company in the security sector. The complaint alleged that actions of a US subsidiary of the company did not meet voluntary standards on human rights included in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. These guidelines have an associated complaints process in which the first stage is for the National Contact Point (NCP) to decide whether to take a complaint further. The UK NCP has rejected this complaint at this first stage. It considers that UK handling is not appropriate and recommends that the complaint is submitted to the US National Contact Point. The parties are not named, in line with the UK NCP’s standard approach where a complaint is not taken forward.

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Item
13 January 2015

G4S statement

Author: G4S

“As the company providing the services at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is no longer a part of the group, there is no reason for any complaint to be directed at G4S.

We have made numerous statements about the challenges of managing the business under a US Foreign Ownership Control and Influence (FOCI) structure and our rationale for selling the company (the divestment announced in March 2013).  These rules place significant restrictions on foreign parent companies and limit the ability for a parent company to influence decisions made by the subsidiary.

The contract commenced on 1 December 2014, after the sale of the business had been completed.”

Article
13 January 2015

Ministers fail to investigate G4S 'human rights abuses'

Author: Chris Green, Independent (UK)

The Government has been accused of trying to “wash its hands” of potential human rights abuses by refusing to investigate the British security company G4S’s involvement with Guantanamo Bay. In August a formal complaint was lodged with the Government stating that by signing a £70m contract to provide “janitorial services” to the notorious prison for terrorism suspects, G4S’s US subsidiary G4S Government Solutions may have broken international guidelines laid down by the OECD.The contract...did not commence until after G4S had completed a sale of the US subsidiary business late last year...A team of officials at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) spent four months conducting an “initial assessment” of the claim – before announcing yesterday it was “not appropriate” for the complaint to be considered by the UK. Instead, they recommended that it be resubmitted to the US government. The decision was met with dismay last night by human rights groups, who told The Independent that ministers had abdicated their responsibility to hold British companies to account for their actions overseas....”Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s business and human rights director, added:...“The UK knows full well that no US Government body will hold G4S accountable for contributing to human rights violations in Guantánamo when it is the US itself that is the primary agent of those violations...” A BIS spokesperson said the UK’s National Contact Point (NCP) for OECD guidelines “does not comment on complaints outside of its published assessments and statements”. 

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Article
2 September 2014

Reprieve submits complaint against G4S to UK OECD National Contact Point after company accepts Guantanamo contract

Author: Chris Green, Independent (UK)

Guantanamo-bay

 

...G4S has been reported to the Government for accepting a multi-million pound contract to service America's Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, which contains the notorious prison for terrorism suspects. The world's largest security firm may have broken international guidelines by signing the £70m contract, under which it agreed to provide "janitorial services" to the prison...that houses 149 inmates not charged with any offence, campaigners said. A formal complaint has been lodged with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) by the human rights group Reprieve, which said that by working at Guantanamo Bay G4S staff "may contribute to the ongoing human rights violations"...A G4S spokesperson said: "G4S Government Solutions provides facilities services and general maintenance support to... Guantanamo Bay in areas such as housing and facilities for soldiers and their families. It provides similar services to numerous US Navy bases around the world. It does not have any responsibility for the detention centre. G4S announced its plans to dispose of G4S Government Solutions in 2013 and is currently negotiating the sale of the company."

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