Government criticised after ruling out Guantanamo Bay investigation

Ministers have been criticised for refusing to investigate the involvement of a British security company with Guantanamo Bay.

The Government has been accused of attempting to “wash its hands” of potential human rights abuses by failing to look at the link between G4S and the notorious prison – used by the USA to detain terrorism suspects.

Last  August, the Government received a formal complaint which suggested that G4S’ American subsidiary, G4S Government Solutions, may have broken international guidelines by signing a £70m contract to provide janitorial services to the facility.

Officials spent several months assessing the claim, but announced this week that it would not be appropriate for the UK to investigate the complaint – suggesting the issue be handed to the American authorities.

Kevin Lo, a legal investigator for Reprieve, the UK human rights group which had lodged the original complaint, said: “When [G4S’s US subsidiary] signed this contract in August 2014, Reprieve immediately put the UK Government on notice that a major UK-based firm was becoming involved with daily operations at Guantanamo Bay – potentially including terrible abuses.

“What followed was months of stonewalling by G4S, as it raced to sell the part of the company responsible for carrying out the contract. Today the UK too has attempted to wash its hands of any oversight responsibility.”

Peter Frankental, from Amnesty International UK, was also critical of the decision.

“The UK knows full well that no US Government body will hold G4S accountable for contributing to human rights violations in Guantánamo when it is the US itself that is the primary agent of those violations,” he said.

“The UK should recognise its responsibility to hold UK parent companies accountable for abuses by their overseas subsidiaries.”

Part of the problem is that the sale of the subsidiary to an undisclosed buyer has already gone through.

“As the company providing the services at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base is no longer a part of the group, there is no reason for any complaint to be directed at G4S,” said a spokesman for the security firm.

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