LPHR notes the announcement made yesterday by the security services company, G4S plc, that it has completed its sale of G4S Israel to FIMI Opportunity Funds for £88m. This follows G4S’ announcement on 2 December 2016 that it had reached an agreement on the sale of G4S Israel to the Israeli private equity fund.
We welcome the decision to sell G4S Israel as being an act in accordance with G4S’ business and human rights responsibilities.
Between November 2013 and June 2015, LPHR successfully pursued a significant business and human rights complaint under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises against G4S Plc, for its involvement in human rights violations against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
LPHR made clear that G4S’ withdrawal from relevant contracts with Israeli state agencies is required under the OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, if it is unable to exercise its leverage to prevent or mitigate the human rights violations with which it is linked through these business relationships.
In March 2016, and less than a year after the OECD UK National Contact Point (UK NCP) agreed with our evidence-based assessment that G4S were in breach of its human rights responsibilities under the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UK multinational announced that it had commenced a process to sell its subsidiary, G4S Israel, culminating in yesterday’s announcement of the completion of sale to FIMI Opportunity Funds.
LPHR notes, however, that G4S has yet to clarify whether it will continue to be involved in the occupied Palestinian territory through its operations or business relationships. In this context, we also note that their press release of 2 December 2016 omitted reference to G4S Israel providing services and equipment in the occupied Palestinian territory, when describing G4S Israel as “providing manned security and security systems across Israel”.
LPHR further notes that we have seen no assurance from FIMI Opportunity Funds that it will seek to address the human rights violations at Israeli prisons and detention centres, and at military checkpoints, including along the Wall. This absence, combined with the evidence alone that is has agreed to buy G4S Israel, does raise serious concerns over the adequacy or existence of a rigorous human rights due diligence process, and of the extent of consideration that it gives to adhering to its business and human rights responsibilities.
We suggest that the above issues be explored by the UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), in relation to its preparation of a business and human rights database for companies involved in settlement-related activities. LPHR made a submission on G4S plc and FIMI Opportunity Funds to OHCHR on 30 December 2016, and will imminently provide an update to OHCHR following yesterday’s development.