G4S and Jimmy Mubenga

Away from the front pages was the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service not to charge G4S with manslaughter following the death of Jimmy Mubenga, an Angolan asylum seeker who died while being deported by G4S guards in 2010. According to eyewitnesses on the deportation flight Jimmy Mubenga was screaming “I can’t breathe” and “they’re going to kill me” as a number of G4S guards held him to the floor (a technique referred to by some G4S staff as “carpet karaoke” because of the screams it induces). The Home Office and G4S initially both told the story that Jimmy Mubenga “took ill” not that he was assaulted.

Protesting against Jimmy Mubenga’s death outside Home Office

pic from Guardian

 

In response, Makenda Adrienne Kambana, Jimmy Mubenga’s wife said: “We are distraught my husband has been taken away from me and my children have lost their father.  He was crying for help before he was killed.  We can’t understand why the officers and G4S are not answerable to the law as we or any other member of the public would be.”

 

Lord Ramsbotham, a former inspector of prisons, has described the decision not to prosecute three G4S guards over the death of Angolan national Jimmy Mubenga as “perverse”. See also Damola Awoyokun’s article “No Surprises in failure to prosecute G4S over death of Jimmy Mubenga”

 

For more on G4S and the many campaigns against them, see the No to G4S blogspot and Open Democracy’s “Securing Whose World” series.

 

Stopping the Privatisation of Asylum and Council Housing

 SYMAAG invited to Defend Council Housing conference

 

We’re pleased to report that SYMAAG members were invited to give a presentation at a recent conference of the Defend Council Housing (DCH) campaign group. They spoke about the danger that G4S pose to all social housing, not just asylum housing. They were warmly received and invited to work alongside DCH in the future. A SYMAAG leaflet, which argues that G4S are using the privatisation of asylum housing as a way into potentially controlling all social housing was given out to all delegates. This leaflet can be downloaded here: Decent Social Housing for ALL

 

 

Latest News on G4S sub-contractors…..

 

There’s been further coverage (by Corporate Watch) of the sacking of UPM as G4S’ main sub-contractor in Yorkshire and Humberside here

 

UPM have been partially replaced by the small Target Housing group who have tried to claim that they can provide a service to asylum seeker tenants even when they are working together with G4S. Their Chief Executive Officer (himself a Chilean refugee) has issued a statement posted on the website of Sheffield’s Chilean community to this effect. You might want to express your views in the comments section.

 

SYMAAG’s John Grayson has written about how some refugee support groups and charities get co-opted (and potentially destroyed) by corporations like G4S most recently here on the Open Democracy website.

 

As always, see the excellent No to G4S blog for regular updates of G4S’ attempts to “Secure Your World”…

 

The next meeting of SYMAAG’s “No to G4S” working group is Thursday 12th July, 6.30pm at Scotia Works

 

 

 

For media coverage of the dumping of UPM see

 

 

SYMAAG statement on the dumping of UPM

United Property Management (UPM) will no longer be sub-contracted by G4S to provide asylum housing in Yorkshire and Humberside. On June 18th the phrase “G4S has selected United Property Management (UPM) as its primary housing partner” disappeared from the G4S COMPASS website. Simultaneously, UPM’s website stopped referring to G4S as “partners”.

 

 

UPM has provided sub-standard housing to asylum seekers in our region for years, while UKBA sub-contracted to them, despite frequent complaints from asylum seeking tenants and asylum rights campaigners. Their recent evictions of tenants in Bradford were the focus of a campaign led by Why Refugee Women and SYMAAG. In one case, a woman and her 3 month old baby were moved 40 miles, from Bradford to Doncaster, to a bare flat with no cooker, chairs and only a tiny sink next to the toilet for all their washing needs.

 

In what could be a remarkable coincidence UKBA announced on the same day (in a letter entitled Corporate Partners – Transition Announcement Letter (2) that “the Transition phase of the COMPASS project has now begun in the North East Yorkshire and the Humber region”. That is, UKBA no longer have to sub-contract to a company who are regarded as unacceptable, even by the standards of G4S!

 

The next few weeks will see G4S in a frantic search for other sub-contractors paid for by £135 million of public money in Yorkshire and Humberside. We will be subjecting them to the same scrutiny as we put UPM under. No doubt there are also issues of legality relating to the COMPASS contract which was signed with UPM as the named primary sub-contractor (not their replacement organisations).

 

Whichever sub-contractors G4S select we maintain our view that G4S are prison guards not landlords. Their record is one of abuse towards asylum seekers in this country and elsewhere. We should not be paying them public money to operate this contract.

 

As always, see the No to G4S blogspot for updates