G4S’ involvement in the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli jails dominated the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 6th June, overshadowing all other business, including last year’s Olympic security fiasco, said Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in a press release.The AGM was also interrupted by protestors shouting ‘Who killed Jimmy Mubenga?’ in reference to the Angolan asylum seeker who died in England while being escorted onto a plane by G4S security guards in 2011. The protestors, who unfurled a banner saying ‘Stop G4S’, were escorted from the meeting.
Throughout the two hour AGM, Palestinian solidarity campaigners demanded to know when G4S would be ending its contracts with Israeli prisons, where Palestinian children, women and men are held, often without trial, and routinely tortured.
Of the 16 questions asked by shareholders, seven were about G4S’ Israeli prison contracts.
Campaigners holding shares were dotted amongst the total of 60 shareholders.
Activists from PSC made it clear to new CEO, Ashley Almanza, and the G4S board that the torture of children is ‘absolutely prohibited’ under international law and yet is documented as taking place at Al Jalame prison in Israel.*
Mr. Almanza told the activists: ‘It’s a matter that’s close to our hearts and it’s a matter that we will keep under review.’
Campaigners insisted on being given a timeframe for when the review would take place and when G4S would disassociate itself from its Israeli prison contracts.
In response, G4S chair John Connolly said: ‘We’re not blind to the observations and questions that have been raised a number of times today. We have no business to be associated with inappropriate breaches of the type that have been referred to today.’
However, both Mr. Connolly and Mr. Almanza insisted that no breaches of ‘international humanitarian law’ were being committed against Palestinian prisoners held in Israel’s jails.
Hugh Lanning, chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who attended the meeting, said afterwards: ‘G4S has learned from today’s AGM that there’s a price to be paid for profiting from Israel’s crimes.
PSC’s campaign against G4S will continue until it stops making money from human rights violations, illegal detention and torture against Palestinians and withdraws from doing business with Israel’s prison service.
G4S is a key target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which targets companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land.’
Campaigners were also outside the AGM all afternoon, demonstrating with placards, with some dressed as hooded prisoners.