Security firm told to guard standards

Global Solutions (GSL), which runs immigration detention centres and prisons, has come under pressure to raise standards after a case alleging breaches of human rights was upheld against it.

The action was taken by non-governmental organisations in Australia over its operations there. The NGOs, including Oxford-based Rights & Accountability in Development (Raid), complained under OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises - a voluntary complaints mechanism set up to encourage corporate social responsibility.

The detention of children was the focus of the protests. But there were also concerns about treatment of detainees, provision of mental health services, quality of food, the isolation unit and methods of deportation.

The submission also alleged GSL (Australia) was mis-stating its operations in a "deceptive, misleading, fraudulent or unfair" way by claiming to be "committed to promoting best practice in human rights in its policies, procedures and practices".

Raid said it would ask the OECD's UK representative to arrange a meeting with GSL to discuss the implications of the case. "We'd like to see GSL publicly acknowledge... that it accepts the crucial importance of using a human rights framework as the appropriate standard to guide its operations in the UK," said Raid executive director Patricia Feeney.

Serena Lillywhite, of the Australian Brotherhood of St Laurence, another of the NGOs involved, said one of the most significant outcomes of the case was that GSL showed a willingness to meet with NGOs and discuss the issues in good faith.

In a statement released by the OECD, GSL (Australia) managing director Peter Olszak said the case had created opportunities for GSL to engage with NGOs. "Further it has identified processes for the future to assist the ongoing engagement between GSL and the community." All the children held in the detention centres have since been released.