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G4S announcement to continue involvement with unlawful detention for three years may amount to aggravating circumstance


[9 June 2014] – On 2 June 2014, the UK/Danish security company G4S published a report on its website purporting to absolve itself of all moral and legal responsibility arising out of its commercial activities in Israel and Palestine. However, in an apparent about face the company’s CEO, Ashley Almanza, announced at the annual shareholders meeting in London three days later that G4S will not be renewing its contract to provide equipment and maintenance services to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) when it expires in 2017.

At last years’ annual shareholders meeting, Almanza announced that the company would not be renewing its contracts to provide equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints, police stations and a prison in the West Bank after 2015 but that G4S would continue its commercial relationship with prisons located inside Israel. It is possible that this latest change in position has come about due to a realisation by company officers that its commercial association with prisons located in Israel where Palestinians from the West Bank are being held may amount to aiding and abetting a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention which carries a maximum penalty under UK law of 30 years imprisonment. Further, the company’s involvement in the unlawful detention of Palestinians inside Israel may be placing in jeopardy the company’s ability to successfully tender for public contracts in the future. It should be noted that liability in this instance arises out of the geographical location of the prisons and is not dependent upon there being any evidence of ill-treatment.
Although this latest announcement has been met with cautious optimism in some quarters, it should be noted that an announcement by the CEO of a public company that the corporation intends to continue its commercial activities involving the unlawful detention of protected persons outside occupied territory for another three years may be considered to be an aggravating rather than mitigating circumstance in any future criminal or civil action.   
  1.  6 June 2013 – The Guardian, Israeli prison contracts take centre stage at G4S shareholder meeting
  2.  2 June 2014 – Two academics absolve G4S of moral and legal responsibility
  3.  5 June 2014 - Financial Times, G4S to end Israeli jail contracts within three years