Liberty and 40 other organisations demand inquiry after infamous security firm G4S wins discrimination helpline contract

05 September 2016

  • Liberty, Tell MAMA and 39 others call for parliamentary inquiry into decision to award Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) contract to global infamous security firm
  • Liberty dossier demonstrates repeated human rights abuses by G4S

Human rights and equality campaigners have come together to demand a parliamentary inquiry into why the infamous global security firm G4S was handed the contract to run a Government-funded helpline for victims of discrimination.

The news comes ahead of a debate in the House of Lords today (6 September) on the awarding of the contract.

Liberty, Tell MAMA and 39 other organisations have written to the Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Harriet Harman MP – as well as the chairs of the Women and Equalities Select Committee, the Public Accounts Committee and the Home Affairs Select Committee – calling for an investigation after it was reported that G4S has won the contract to run the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) from 1 October.

The EASS provides expert advice and assistance on issues relating to equality and human rights across England, Scotland and Wales. Until October 2012, it was administered by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and in March this year a parliamentary report recommended the service be returned to the EHRC – a position fully supported by the EHRC themselves.

The campaigners want to see the award of the contract placed on hold until an investigation into both the tendering process and the suitability of G4S to deliver the service is carried out.

Liberty has produced a dossier collating the company’s reported failings on human rights and equality in the UK.

It highlights that:

  • A 15-year-old girl at G4S’s Medway Secure Training Centre in 2011 has claimed she was left all night in her room after having a miscarriage and was not taken to hospital for a week and a half.
  • In November 2015, 37-year-old epileptic man Mohamoud Ahmed Ali died in his cell at G4S-run Parc prison in Wales.
  • An inquest jury found his condition was never diagnosed because escorts had repeatedly failed to take him to his medical appointments, despite referrals from neurologists after he began suffering seizures in 2012.
  • In 2011, during a High Court challenge, G4S whistleblowers prepared statements alleging routine racist and sexist abuse among staff and the use of unsafe restraint techniques.
  • Dozens of extremely racist text messages were found on the phones of the G4S security guards involved in the unlawful killing of Jimmy Mubenga – a 46-year-old Angolan man who died in 2010 while being removed from the UK by the company.

A SumOfUs petition urging the Secretary of State for Education, Women and Equalities not to hand over the service to G4S, and instead hand responsibility back to the EHRC, has received more than 50,000 signatures.

Acting on these shared concerns, the charity Law Centres Network has initiated a legal challenge to the EASS contract tender process and to the offer of the contract to G4S, issuing a Letter Before Action to the Education Secretary in her capacity as Minister for Women and Equalities.

Bella Sankey, Director of Policy for Liberty, said: “The EASS provides expert advice to those who face discrimination – whether refused accommodation because of their race, or sacked from their job because of their age.

“G4S has been responsible for countless human rights violations, and the mistreatment and even unlawful killing of people in their care. It’s hard to think of a company more ill-equipped to provide this vital service.

“Liberty joins other equality and rights organisations in demanding that this perverse decision be halted while Parliament investigates.”

For interviews, contact: 0207 378 3677 / 07973 831 128 / pressoffice@liberty-human-rights.org.uk.

 

Full list of signatories:

(* Organisations that have offered their support since the joint letter was published)

Action and Rights of Disabled People in Newham

Advice Services Alliance

Bail for Immigration Detainees

BARAC UK*

CEMVO Scotland*

Detention Action

Disability Advice Service Lambeth

Discrimination Law Association

Engender*

Enfield Disability Action

Enfield LGBT Network

Enfield Women's Centre

Equal Lives

Equality Network*

Faith Matters

Friends, Families and Travellers

Greenwich Association of Disabled People

Inclusion London

INQUEST

Institute of Race Relations

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

JUST West Yorkshire

Kingston Visual Impairment Parliament

Law Centres Network

Legal Aid Practitioners Group

LGBT Consortium

Liberty

London Autistic Rights Movement

Merton Centre for Independent Living

Operation Black Vote

Positive Action in Housing*

Prisoners’ Advice Service

Public Concern at Work*

Race Equality Foundation

Race Equality Matters

Race on the Agenda

Redbridge Equality and Community Council*

Redbridge Concern for Mental Health

Rights Watch UK

Ruils

Safety 4 Sisters

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)*

Sisters of Frida

Southall Black Sisters*

SumOfUs

Tell MAMA

The Howard League for Penal Reform

The Runnymede Trust

Unlock

Women for Refugee Women

Women's Resource Centre