The name G4S is one which has come to represent a marriage of capitalist success and abandonment of moral values. The security firm is perhaps the most controversial company supported by the UK Government, with an impressively terrible portfolio of far-reaching blunders. However, the most recent episode in the questionable history of G4S places significant pressure on the Government to terminate its continuing association with such a divisive company.
Recently, G4S accepted a contract worth £71 million to offer ‘base operating services’ to Guantanamo Bay. Administratively known as a prison, many know the American facility as little more than a house of torture. Currently detaining 149 inmates who are yet to be charged with any offence, many of whom are now being force-fed after recent attempts to peacefully protest their anguishing predicament, Guantanamo Bay indicates of the willingness of ‘developed’ Western powers to utilise the most inhumane methods to achieve political goals.
In finer detail, those who continue to defend G4S have stated that the contract was accepted by ‘G4S Government Solutions’, a US-based branch of the security firm. This particular branch is said to run independent of the UK headquarters. In fact, G4S announced that plans were coming to fruition to sell off G4S Government Solutions, a reactionary slamming of the panic button, in realisation of the magnitude of this damaging decision. Whilst this may well be true, it is highly doubtful that a contract of such consequence, operating at a prison of the notoriety of Guantanamo, passed over the heads of directors in the UK unnoticed and unchallenged.
The reported selling off of this US branch is no show of morality from the UK headquarters. A glance at its previous contracts reveals a questionable record. In 2007, the company provided facilities to an Israeli prison detaining Palestinian political prisoners, a prison whose conditions and existence broke specific regulations stated in the Fourth Geneva Convention. The human rights side of this spinning coin appears not to be of great significance for the security company.
Nevertheless, not only does G4S’s acceptance of this contract utterly betray any remaining moral awareness, it runs counter to the official position of the UK Government. This position is one which wholly condemns operations at Guantanamo Bay, and calls moreover for the closure of the infamous prison. This act thus, once again, undermines entirely the Government’s support of G4S, and should instigate the beginning of the end of this tenuous relationship.
Indeed, this is a relationship which has seen the Government persist in its backing of G4S in the face of adverse conditions. As is well-documented, the Government took the decision to bring in members of the army to aid security operations for the 2012 Olympics, after a disastrous handling of preparations by G4S. Following this, the Government continued to outsource to the security firm, before it was revealed in 2013 that G4S had been greatly overcharging the Government for the tagging of criminals, some of whom were deceased or overseas. This prompted a suspension from government contracts for G4S; but this suspension proved merely temporary. It appears that the time has come for G4S and the UK Government to permanently conclude this lamentable agreement.
It would be a welcome relief to the people of the United Kingdom to see the end of G4S’s association with their government. It is the Government’s responsibility to send out a firm statement, to cut all ties with G4S with immediate effect, and to end our support of a company whose search for profit tramples upon human dignity.