The government is being asked to take action against British firm G4S, after it emerged the company has won a £71mllion contract to provide a range of ‘base support’ services at Guantánamo Bay.
The legal charity Reprieve, which assists Guantánamo prisoners such as British resident Shaker Aamer, has submitted a dossier of evidence to the UK’s responsible business watchdog, the National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines (UK NCP). The submission argues that by providing ‘essential’ services at the prison, G4S will be contravening British government policy that the prison must be closed, as well as the OECD’s guidelines for responsible business conduct.
Support services form an important part of a complex regime of mistreatment at Guantánamo, and the broad scope of the G4S contract – which includes ‘vehicles’, ‘custodial’, and ‘limited facilities support’ – has raised concerns that G4S will be directly complicit in abuses such as force-feeding.
Last week, several detainees protesting their detention without charge alerted their Reprieve lawyers to a new crackdown by the Guantánamo authorities. Mr Aamer was reportedly beaten, while another detainee’s hand was broken.
The British government maintains that the prison must close, and that Mr Aamer should be returned home to London. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that Guantánamo “has actually helped to radicalise people and make our country and our world less safe”, while elsewhere the prison has been called “a shocking affront to democracy.”
Kevin Lo, Reprieve investigator, said: “Serious abuses are happening every day at Guantanamo Bay, supported by the most innocuous-sounding services. G4S needs to be much clearer about what it will be providing to the prison under this very broad contract. Will G4S vehicles be transporting force-feeding supplements, restraint chairs – even detainees? The UK government – given its position that Guantanamo must close – should be demanding answers.”