We, as the University of Cape Town Palestine Solidarity Forum (UCT PSF), support the decision by the Cape Town based Trauma Centre to cancel their contracts with the multinational security company, G4S. This comes in the wake of G4S’s persistent complicity in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel and more recently, in their complicity with human rights violations of South African prisoners in the Mangaung correctional facility.
G4S is a British security company active all over the world. G4S has received extensive attention by the media and international human rights organisations for their complicity in substantial human rights violations both in South Africa and globally, particularly in the occupied Palestinian territories. G4S provides systems for the Ketziot and Megiddo prisons, which hold Palestinian political prisoners from occupied Palestinian territory inside Israel. This is in contravention of International Law as Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of prisoners from occupied territory into the territory of the occupier.
G4S also provides equipment for Ofer prison, located in the occupied West Bank, and for Kishon and Moskobiyyeh detention facilities. Investigations by human rights organisations have documented systematic torture and ill- treatment of Palestinian prisoners, including child prisoners. Defence for Children-Palestine (DCI-Palestine) has released an urgent appeal to end the practice of holding Palestinian children from the West Bank in solitary confinement in facilities in Israel. The organization has documented 53 such cases since 2008.
G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank that form part of the route of Israel’s illegal separation Wall as stated in the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on the Wall. This is in addition to equipment and services provided for the terminals isolating the occupied and besieged territory of Gaza. G4S signed contracts for equipment and services for the West Bank Israeli Police headquarters and to private businesses based in illegal Israeli settlements. The Russell Tribunal in 2010 concluded through expert legal evidence that G4S could be held criminally liable for its activities in support of Israel’s illegal separation Wall and other violations of international law.
Within South Africa, allegations of human rights violations have been made against G4S with regards to their treatment of prisoners in the Mangaung Correctional facility in Bloemfontein. G4S has allegedly, in its management of the Mangaung Prison forcibly injected inmates with antipsychotic medication and has made use of electroshock techniques in order to subdue and control prisoners. These allegations are based on evidence from many prisoners as well as security guards, prison and health officials in which they provided evidence through medical records, legal documents and video footage shot inside the prison. A 12-month-long investigation into the prison has uncovered video footage shot inside the prison hospital that shows prisoners being given medication against their will, as well as the use of electroshock and assaults on prisoners.
The Cape Town based Trauma Centre is a well-known human rights organisation founded in 1993 by popular anti-apartheid activist and clergyman Father Michael Lapsley. The organisation is committed to creating a society free from violence and torture and promoting a culture of human rights. The Centre played an important role in reconciliation in South Africa, particularly in its involvement with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Centre is endorsed by many human rights activists including Ahmed Kathrada, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Graca Machel. Thus, the cancelling of G4S contracts by the Trauma Centre, illustrates the long history of the Centre’s commitment to opposing violations of human rights.
An international campaign against the violations of human rights committed by G4S is growing with Norway’s University of Bergen also cancelling their contracts with the security company earlier this month. Thus, the Trauma Centre’s decision to cancel their contracts with G4S adds momentum to this growing trend and we fully support it. As the UCT Palestine Solidarity Forum, we urge UCT to follow suit and cancel all UCT contracts with G4S but to retain all existing employees. In addition to G4S’s role in the aforementioned, UCT should specifically care about the situation as workers work under terrible conditions, making UCT complicit in this unfair treatment of workers on their own campus. We see this as very important as our University stands for equality, justice, the upholding of human rights and equal treatment of all workers.
DISTRIBUTED BY ALEX HOTZ – MEDIA OFFICER
UNIVERSITY OF CAPE TOWN PSF
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