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Reprieve vs. G4S plc

Case overview

Date filed 27 August 2014
Current status Rejected
Issue G4S’s contribution to human rights abuses at Guantánamo Bay
Summary of the case The complaint alleges that G4S through the janitorial services contract of wholly-owned subsidiary G4S Government Solutions, Inc. may contribute to the ongoing human rights violations being perpetrated at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp. The prison has been the scene of a large variety of torture techniques: use of dogs during interrogations, forced removal of clothing, hooding, stress positions, isolation, sensory deprivation, threatening detainees with death or severe pain, threatening detainees with harm to their families, and religious & sexual humiliation. Even today, mistreatment and torture continues at Guantánamo Bay.

G4Ss contract for the Guantánamo Bay facility includes a wide range of base operating support services, including housing, facility management, facility investment, other (swimming pools), custodial, pest control, integrated solid waste management, grounds maintenance and landscaping, base support vehicles and equipment, electrical, wastewater, water, and limited facilities support functions. The complaint alleges that through providing these services G4S enables the US government to continue inflicting human rights violations upon detainees. Reprieve argues that G4Ss services will facilitate the indefinite detention of prisoners, which is a breach of the internationally recognised right to a fair trial, the right to liberty and the protection against torture. According to the complaint, it is crucial that G4S GS clarify the details and extent of its contractual obligations at Guantánamo Bay since “custodial”, “facility management”, and “base support vehicles and equipment” services could mean the company would be involved (either directly or indirectly) with FCE, force-feeding, and other unlawful and inhumane practices by the US military.

Reprieve insists G4S should cease to provide services under the contract and clarify the nature and scope of the companys work at Guantánamo, detailing specific contractual obligations. Additionally, Reprieve urges G4S to clarify G4Ss policy in relation to contracts for support of US counter-terror operations, particularly those related to torture and indefinite detention, including any risk assessment policy with respect to complicity in violations of international law. They further demand documentation on G4Ss human rights due diligence carried out prior to entering into the contract and any efforts made to prevent or mitigate the adverse human rights impacts to which G4S contributes.
Developments/Outcome The NCP forwarded the complaint to G4S for a response. The company argued that it has little control over its subsidiary and made no attempt to address the substantive allegations of the complaint. Moreover, the company now confirms that it has divested itself of the subsidiary.

In December 2014, the UK NCP decided to reject the complaint and recommended that the complaint be re-submitted with the US NCP, as the contract involves a US multinational and the US Navy. Furthermore, the UK NCP considers that the allegations refer to policies and practices of the US government in operating a US prison facility and accepts that overseas parent companies have limited influence over US subsidiaries.

The complainants are disappointed about the UK NCPs decision and argue that the UK NCP must do more to hold UK parent companies accountable for abuses by their overseas subsidiaries. They fear 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.
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Human rights

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point United Kingdom
NCP address 1-19 Victoria Street SW1H 0ET London, United Kingdom
NCP website www.berr.gov.uk
Other NCPs involved

Complainant

NGO

Company Information

Company responsible G4S plc
Company address
Company website
Company in violation G4S plc
Country of operations Cuba
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
31 December 2014 National Contact Point United Kingdom reject The UK NCP rejects the complaint download pdf (301Kb)  
27 August 2014 Reprieve file Reprieve files complaint against G4S. download pdf (136Kb)  

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