In June 2015, the UK National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises published its important findings that G4S was in multiple breach of human rights responsibilities connected to its activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, following a comprehensive human rights complaint submitted by LPHR. Nine months afterwards, G4S announced that it had commenced a process to sell its subsidiary company, G4S Israel. Then, in June 2017, the UK multinational announced that it had completed the sale of G4S Israel to an Israeli private equity fund, FIMI Opportunity Funds.
We welcomed the eventual completion of the sale of G4S Israel as an act in accordance with G4S’ business and human rights responsibilities. At the same time, we reiterated concerns previously made in our letters to G4S and FIMI Opportunity Funds in March 2017, that the latter must act to meet its responsibilities to end the involvement of G4S Israel in human rights breaches against Palestinians. (See below for more on these letters)
We are therefore very concerned to review recent research published by an authoritative Israeli non-governmental organisation that strongly indicates FIMI Opportunity Funds has failed to act in compliance with its business and human rights responsibilities in respect of its acquisition of G4S Israel.
WhoProfits has detailed how the newly named G1 Secure Solutions – formerly G4S Israel – which is under the ownership of FIMI Opportunity Funds, continues to provide equipment and services to Israeli authorities for use in the occupied Palestinian territory. These activities are being maintained despite the adverse findings of the UK National Contact Point that similar activities of G4S Israel were in breach of human rights obligations under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD Guidelines).
This new research strongly indicates that FIMI Opportunity Funds has failed to carry out adequate human rights due diligence in respect of the activities of its newly acquired subsidiary as required under the OECD Guidelines, and that it is failing to address the UK National Contact Point’s significant findings of breach of business and human rights obligations.
We therefore urge FIMI Opportunity Funds, as the owner of G1 Secure Solutions, to immediately carry out full human rights due diligence and take all necessary steps to bring itself into compliance with its human rights responsibilities under the OECD Guidelines.
In addition, this very troubling situation reinforces the critical need for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to publish its database of companies that are involved in settlement-related activities which infringe upon a wide range of human rights. The UN database has been subject to delay. The example of G1 Secure Solutions and FIMI Opportunity Funds provides a clear demonstration why the UN database is necessary to provide an illuminating spotlight on companies who are acting in apparent clear breach of their business and human responsibilities through involvement in settlement-related activities.
Background to LPHR’s involvement in G1 Secure Solutions
Between 2013 and 2016, LPHR successfully pursued a significant business and human rights complaint under the OECD Guidelines against the UK multinational security services company, G4S Plc, for its involvement (via its Israeli subsidiary, G4S Israel) in human rights violations against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
Specifically, the G4S services at issue in our comprehensive complaint included:
- contracts to service and maintain full body scanners and baggage scanning equipment used at military checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, including along the illegal separation barrier, that substantially infringes upon the right to freedom of movement and an associated wide range of basic human rights;
- contracts to provide full body scanners at the Erez checkpoint in the occupied Gaza Strip; and
- contracts to provide security systems for the Ofer detention facility in the occupied West Bank, and also for prison and detention facilities inside Israel that incarcerates Palestinians unlawfully transferred from the occupied Palestinian territory. Human rights violations against detainees and prisoners are widely reported in the Israeli Prison Service system, including against children. They include reports of torture and/or cruel and degrading treatment, solitary confinement and excessive use of administrative detention.
In March 2016, and soon after the OECD UK National Contact Point agreed with our evidence-based assessment that G4S was in breach of its human rights responsibilities under the OECD Guidelines, the company announced that it had commenced a process to sell G4S Israel. The UK multinational announced the completion of the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds (an Israel private equity fund) in June 2017. Since then, G4S Israel has been renamed G1 Secure Solutions.
Summary of LPHR’s follow-up action
Following completion of the sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds, LPHR noted that FIMI Opportunity Funds had not provided any public assurance that it would seek to address the human rights violations at Israeli prisons and detention centres, and at military checkpoints, including along the separation barrier. We noted that this raised serious concerns about the adequacy or existence of a rigorous due diligence process in respect of human rights.
Prior to the completion of the sale and in the absence of any such public assurances, LPHR submitted evidence to the UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights in December 2016 that proposed both G4S and FIMI Opportunity Funds be considered for inclusion on its business and human rights database for companies involved in settlement-related activities; specifically because of involvement in activities that enable and perpetuate the use of military checkpoints, which is settlement-related infrastructure. The UN database has not yet been published. For more information on the UN database, please see LPHR’s Q&A here.
In March 2017, LPHR wrote to G4S asking whether it had alerted FIMI Opportunity Funds to the UK National Contact Point’s findings of a breach of human rights obligations in relation to G4S’ activities in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory. At the same time, LPHR wrote directly to FIMI Opportunity Funds, setting out the UK National Contact Point’s findings and seeking clarifications as to whether the company was aware of these findings and, crucially, asking how FIMI Opportunity Funds would seek to address human rights violations at Israeli prisons and detention centres, and at military checkpoints, including along the separation barrier, that are linked to the services provided by G4S Israel (now G1 Secure Solutions).
LPHR did not receive responses to either letter and, until the new research published by Who Profits, has found it difficult to find relevant information on FIMI Opportunity Funds in relation to its new subsidiary, G1 Secure Solutions.
New research suggesting that G1 Secure Solutions continues to be involved in human rights violations
WhoProfits, an Israeli non-governmental organisation, has recently issued new research which suggests that since FIMI Opportunity Funds acquired the company:
- it has provided metal gates for installation and maintenance at Israeli Civil Administration checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territory;
- it has entered into contracts to provide maintenance for integrated management systems for the Israeli Prison Service, including a CCTV system, digital recording, control rooms and control and monitoring computers; and
- it has continued to be involved in providing closed circuit TV systems to the Israeli ministry of Public Security’s safe city project, which has been rolled out in settlements in the occupied West Bank.
LPHR has not been able to corroborate this information independently, but if the above is correct, it reinforces our concerns that FIMI Opportunity Funds has failed to carry out adequate human rights due diligence in respect of the activities of its newly acquired subsidiary as required under the OECD Guidelines, and that it is continuing to fail to address the UK National Contact Point’s important findings of multiple human rights breach.
Claire Jeffwitz, Tareq Shrourou