G4S faces fury over human rights abuses
Simon Read is Personal Finance Editor at The Independent. He edits the Saturday Your Money section and writes the Daily Money column and Wednesday’s Midweek Money section in i newspaper. He also writes for the news and business pages of the Independent and i newspaper and is a regular money commentator on TV station London Live. He has won numerous awards including Consumer Finance Journalist of the Year.
Friday 06 June 2014
Human rights campaigners yesterday disrupted the London annual general meeting of security giant G4S. Some 30 activists hijacked the meeting to voice their concerns about the company's role in human rights abuses in South Africa, Palestine, the UK and elsewhere.
Chief executive Ashley Almanza looked visibly distressed as the meeting was disrupted seven separate times and it reportedly took as many guards as there were activists to restore order to the meeting, after violently removing some 25 protesters.
During the protest, G4S chair John Connolly was presented with a "Champion Human Rights Abuser's Prize" and campaigners read out a mock letter from Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, thanking the company for its role in Israeli prisons.
Other campaigners then read out a message about the company's track record of alleged abuse. It highlighted the company's role in the death of Jimmy Mubegna, an Angolan migrant who died on a deportation run by G4S in 2010; allegations of torture and beatings by G4S guards in a South African prison and an Australian migrant detention centre.
One of the protesters, Alice Barton, from the London Palestine Action group, said: "We took action today to remind G4S shareholders that they have a responsibility to prevent the company from contributing to Israel's systematic human rights violations.
"By helping Israel to run prisons where Palestinian political prisoners as young as 14 are held without trial, G4S is very much part of Israel's system of apartheid and colonialism."
But Mr Connolly said the company had already decided not to renew its contracts to maintain prisons in Israel and the West Bank.
G4S has also denied any involvement in torture or human rights abuses.
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