USA: Investors file resolutions with companies at risk for human rights violations due to govt. contracts related to immigration

In December 2018, investor members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility launched a corporate campaign focused on a group of six companies across the private prison, e-commerce, banking and defense sectors, deemed at risk for human rights violations as a result of government contracts that support President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policies. Investors have filed shareholder resolutions at the following companies:

Private Prisons

  • CoreCivic (allegations of forced labor and failure to provide medical assistance to detainees)
  • GEO Group (issues relating to safety, detainee rights, and medical care)
  • We invited CoreCivic to respond; response provided
  • We invited GEO Group to respond; it did not
  • We previously invited CoreCivic and GEO Group to respond to allegations that they were profiting from the detention of immigrant and asylum-seeking families and the separation of families at the US-Mexico border. More information and responses from both companies are available here.

Technology

  • Amazon (sale of facial recognition technology to government agencies including ICE and state law enforcement) 
  • We invited Amazon to respond; response provided. More information about allegations related to its facial recognition technology is available here.

Financial Services

  • SunTrust (funding for MVM, Inc. and Comprehensive Health Services, which are directly contracted with U.S. government agencies carrying out the “zero tolerance” immigration policy)
  • Wells Fargo (providing revolving credit and term loans to GEO; letters of credit on CoreCivic’s behalf; and underwriting bonds for both GEO and CoreCivic) 
  • We invited SunTrust to respond; it did not
  • We invited Wells Fargo to respond; response provided
  • We previously invited SunTrust and Wells Fargo to respond to allegations that bank and investor financing for CoreCivic & GEO Group supports these two companies to profit from the Trump Administration's harsh immigration policies. Wells Fargo responded, SunTrust declined to respond. More information is available here.
  • We previously invited MVM, Inc. and Comprehensive Heath Services to respond to allegations of profiting from the detention of immigrant and asylum-seeking families. Both companies responses. More information is available here.

Defense Contractor

  • Northrop Grumman (racial bias, privacy and surveillance via Homeland Advanced Recognition Technology (HART) database developed for the Department of Homeland Security)
  • We invited Northrop Grumman to respond; response provided
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Article
14 January 2019

Corporate support for Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy prompts shareholder resolutions in 2019

Author: Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

[M]embers of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility announced a group of six shareholder resolutions filed at companies across the private prison, technology, banking and defense sectors deemed at risk for human rights violations as a result of government contracts that support President Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy... All the resolutions cite concerns over potential human rights violations as set forth by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs)... he investors argue that human rights risks related to the “zero tolerance” policy are both serious and material and are calling for increased due diligence to assess and address real and potential human rights impacts they may be contributing or directly linked to, through U.S. federal government contracts... Mary Beth Gallagher of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment, who led the filing at Amazon [said] “Our resolution requests that Amazon prohibit sales of facial recognition technology to government agencies unless it concludes, after an evaluation using independent evidence, that the technology does not materially violate civil and human rights.” ... Financial institutions which provide access to capital and financial support to industries must implement robust human rights due diligence processes to ensure that they do not contribute to human rights violations or become directly linked to violations through their business relationships with the U.S. government. 

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Article
14 January 2019

Investor activists press U.S. prison operators on human rights

Author: Ross Kerber, Reuters

Activist investors said... they filed shareholder resolutions at two U.S. private prison operators, looking to link executive pay to human rights considerations at CoreCivic Inc and have Geo Group give more details on the treatment of people held at correction and detention facilities. The resolutions were filed by shareholders including the Service Employees International Union and the Jesuits U.S.A. West Province... “We thought it was critical to send these companies a message that they need to be concerned about the risks they could be potentially facing around human rights,” said Nadira Narine, senior program director at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility... A spokeswoman for CoreCivic, Amanda Gilchrist, said the company is reviewing the proposal... “CoreCivic has a detailed Human Rights Policy that clearly outlines our commitments regarding resident rights and treatment, including legal rights, safety and security, healthcare, reentry programming, visitation and standards of living."

In a statement e-mailed by Geo Group spokesman Pablo Paez, the company said it “has always been committed to respecting the human rights of all those entrusted to our care” and that processing centers it runs on behalf of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency “provide safe and humane environments that meet the needs of individuals in the care of federal immigration authorities.”

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Company non-response
14 January 2019

SunTrust Banks

Did not respond.

Company non-response
14 January 2019

The GEO Group

Did not respond.

Company response
13 January 2019

CoreCivic's response

Author: CoreCivic

For several years, our company has had in place a detailed Human Rights Policy that clearly outlines our commitments regarding resident rights and treatment, including legal rights, safety and security, healthcare, reentry programming, visitation and standards of living. We believe that this shareholder proposal has already been substantially implemented through our policies, practices, procedures and public disclosures relating to our evaluation of executive compensation... [T]he holistic approach used in evaluating the performance of the company’s senior executives and determining their compensation includes consideration of each of their contributions to furthering CoreCivic’s strategic goals, including our commitment to the human rights and welfare of the individuals entrusted to our care.

... All work programs at our U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities are completely voluntary and operated in full compliance with ICE standards, including federally established minimum wage rates for detainee volunteer labor. Detainees are subject to no disciplinary action whatsoever if they choose not to participate in the work program... We are committed to providing access to high quality healthcare for every individual entrusted to our care.

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Article
13 January 2019

Shareholder resolution filed at CoreCivic

Author: CoreCivic shareholders

CoreCivic recognizes the importance of performance-based pay, touting the fact that 74% of executive officer compensation in 2017 was tied to performance... We agree that companies should reward behavior that creates long-term value even if it does not translate into short-term financial gain. Respecting the human rights of inmates and detainees, in our view, is such a behavior... CoreCivic’s Human Rights Policy Statement (the “Statement”) asserts that “[a] strong commitment to inmate and detainee rights and proper treatment is essential to our work”... CoreCivic has faced and now faces many lawsuits alleging that it has violated the human rights of inmates and detainees... We believe that incorporating respect for human rights into incentive compensation arrangements for senior executives would encourage focus on the steps necessary to ensure respect, including training, adequate staffing and medical resources.

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Article
13 January 2019

Shareholder resolution filed at GEO Group

Author: Geo Group shareholders

There are currently three lawsuits alleging forced labor/human trafficking at GEO immigrant detention centers... Human Rights performance is critical to GEO’s reputation and long-term growth. In order to ensure that the company is adequately respecting human rights in its facilities and meeting the objectives outlined in the portion of its Global Human Rights Policy (the “Policy”) that addresses “Respect for Our Inmates and Detainees,” which lacks specificity, additional public disclosure regarding GEO’s implementation is necessary... Shareholders request that GEO report annually on its website to investors, beginning in September 2019, on how it implements the portion of the Policy that addresses “Respect for Our Inmates and Detainees,” including: 1. How GEO ensures that its employees are aware of, and know how to apply, the company’s commitment to inmate/detainee human rights; 2. Metrics used to assess human rights performance, including any process for independent outside verification of such metrics; and 3. How GEO remedies shortcomings in human rights performance.

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Article
13 January 2019

Shareholder resolution filed at SunTrust Banks

Author: SunTrust shareholders

[S]hareholders of SunTrust Banks, Inc... urge the Board of Directors to establish a Board Committee on Human Rights, to create company policies and review existing policies, above and beyond matters of legal compliance, on the human rights of individuals in the US and worldwide, including adopting and assessing criteria for evaluating potential clients’ corporate social responsibility record and human rights performance... SunTrust is reportedly a source of funding for MVM, Inc. and Comprehensive Health Services, which are directly contracted to U.S. government agencies carrying out the “zero tolerance” immigration policies that have led to family separations and child detentions... SunTrust has had the following financial relationships with CoreCivic and GEO Group, corporations which operate private prisons... Establishing a separate Board Committee on Human Rights would elevate board level oversight and governance regarding human rights issues implicated by the company's activities and policies and provide a vehicle to fulfill the Board’s fiduciary responsibilities for oversight of these issues.

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Article
11 January 2019

Amazon's response

Author: Amazon

Amazon responded with the following links:

https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/thoughts-on-machine-learning-accuracy/
https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/some-quick-thoughts-on-the-public-discu...

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Company response
11 January 2019

Northrop Grumman's response

Author: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman has a strong human rights policy and we will be addressing the shareholder proposal directly.

Download the full document here