UK government dismisses calls to investigate G4S for Guantanamo role

January 13, 2015

13 January 2015

The UK’s business watchdog has dismissed calls to investigate British firm G4S for its involvement with the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.

The UK National Contact Point (NCP), responsible for enforcing the OECD’s guidelines for responsible business conduct, has declined to investigate G4S over a $113 million contract to provide ‘base operating support services’ at the prison.

A request to the NCP submitted last year by legal charity Reprieve, which represents several Guantanamo detainees, raised concerns that involvement in Guantanamo Bay by the UK-based company was a breach of the OECD guidelines, as well as a contravention of Britain’s stated policy that Guantanamo should close. The contract was signed late last year by subsidiary G4S Government Services.

In its published decision, the NCP – housed at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – said that it was “not appropriate” for the complaint to be considered by the UK, citing the sale of the subsidiary to an undisclosed buyer for a reported £89m at the end of 2014.

127 men remain imprisoned without charge or trial in Guantanamo Bay, including British resident Shaker Aamer. The UK government has repeatedly said that Mr Aamer, who has twice been cleared for release, must be urgently returned to his British wife and children in London. Mr Aamer’s lawyers are urging the Prime Minister to secure his release during an upcoming US visit.

Kevin Lo, a corporate investigator at Reprieve, said:

“When G4S signed this contract in August 2014, Reprieve immediately put the UK government on notice that a major UK-based firm was becoming involved with daily operations at Guantanamo Bay – potentially including terrible abuses. What followed was months of stonewalling by G4S, as it raced to sell the part of the company responsible for carrying out the contract. Today the UK too has attempted to wash its hands of any oversight responsibility. The message is clear – despite Britain’s official position that Guantanamo ought to be closed, the government sees no problem with a major British company turning a quick profit at the expense of desperate men like Shaker Aamer, long held without charge or trial. David Cameron has said he is doing all he can to bring Shaker home from Guantanamo to London – so why is his government letting G4S profit from Shaker’s ordeal?”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: alice [DOT] gillham [AT] reprieve [DOT] org [DOT] uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8160

2. The NCP’s decision can be read here, while Reprieve’s original complaint to the NCP can be read here.