Employees of the Institute for Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, part of the EUR, refuse to follow a course on Emergency Response by the disputed British-Danish security firm G4S. In addition, the ISS-employees plead that the university ends the contract with G4S.
G4S is the largest security company in the world and is controversial for alleged human rights violations. Take the allegations of abuse by G4S-staff in a South African prison, criticism on the company for unacceptable violence in British deportation centers for denied asylum seekers, and possibly an investigation into the death of an Angolan asylum seeker, evicted from Great Britain on a flight guarded by G4S, will be reopened. In addition, the company supplies surveillance material and services to Israeli prisons, checkpoints and settlements on the Western Bank, which has been condemned by various international organizations – including the United Nations.
According to dr. Jeff Handmaker, senior lecturer in Law, Human Rights and Development, the Erasmus University should end the contract with G4S. Handmaker is one of the first-aiders at the ISS and together with his colleagues Martin Blok and prof. mr. dr. Karin Arts, has decided to not participate in the course. “There is overwhelming evidence that G4S is involved in massive violations of international humanitarian law and war law”, says Handmaker. “An organization funded by public money, like the EUR, has a high responsibility, or even the duty, to not be involved in this.”
Handmaker has not only moral objections against cooperation with G4S, but thinks that there are also juridical grounds to end the contract. “If there are possible transgressions or violations of international law, you must not use the services of a company like that if the investigation is ongoing.”
The Executive Board (EB) says, in a written statement, to understand the position of the ISS-employees, but that the contract is legally binding and that termination is not in question. “Within the procedures of procurement, the EUR (following public procurement law) can only exclude convicted criminal behavior or grave professional misconduct – and then only if the extension of the assignment brings risk for the client or the quality of the assignment.” However, the EB says that the EUR will ‘consider how to deal with this kind of delicate cases in the granting of assignments’. At the moment, G4S does not want to respond to the objections. TF