THE BLOG

G4S' Guantánamo Contract is a British Embarrassment

08/09/2014 17:25 BST | Updated 08/11/2014 10:59 GMT

The largest security services firm in the world, British company G4S, has accepted a £71million contract to run "base support operating services" at Guantánamo Bay.

Guantánamo has become synonymous with torture and the violation of human rights in the twelve years it has acted as a legal black hole for those swept up in the wake of September 11. Just last week, Shaker Aamer - the last British resident at the facility, and a very ill man - was brutally beaten as part of a new crackdown on the prisoners' hunger strike protest.

The British government has expressed clearly that Guantánamo is an 'anomaly' that must be closed. This means the contract not only puts G4S in breach of OECD Guidelines that govern responsible business conduct, but the UK also looks hypocritical or at least confused.

Reprieve has complained to the British body that oversees these guidelines for UK businesses. Our submission is a grim catalogue of the mistreatment taking place every day at the prison, and you can read the complaint here. Horrific human rights abuses rely upon innocuous-sounding services, many of which may be encompassed by G4S' comprehensive contract with the US government. For more detail on the complaint against G4S, please read my Politics.co.uk piece.

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Image by Matias Mattamala


Among the litany of torture techniques that have tried out on the human beings locked away at Guantanamo Bay, force feeding is the most recent. The men at Guantanamo Bay have been caged and abused for twelve years now, without being charged with any crime. In desperation, a number of detainees resorted to hunger striking as a peaceful form of protest. The US promptly responded with a brutal regime of force feeding.

One man, Emad Hassan, has been force fed twice a day since 2007. This means that Mr. Hassan is dragged out of his cell and bound to a restraint chair that keeps his arms, legs, and head immobile. Nervous medical staff then force long tubes down his nose, and many times, he screams as the tube digs into his lungs. Thick nutritional supplement is pumped into him at great velocity. If Mr. Hassan vomits or coughs up blood, he is simply fed a second can of nutritional supplement.

With its strong stance calling for the closure of Guantanamo Bay, the UK government needs to investigate what exactly G4S will be providing to the detention facility under this contract. Will G4S vehicles be transporting force-feeding supplements, restraint chairs - possibly even detainees?

The UK government cannot turn a blind eye at a British company running a torture facility. The British public deserves an explanation.