Pressed by local activists, Sacramento Regional Transit officials say they will look into whether the agency should consider global human rights issues when deciding what companies to do business with.
A group of peace activists and others has been calling on RT not to renew its contract with a security guard company, G4S Security Solutions, saying the international parent company is complicit in human rights violations, notably in working with the Israeli government at facilities that incarcerate Palestinians.
The group brought its concerns to the RT board meeting last week. Several noted that staffers were recently suspended at a G4S-run facility in England for abuse of teenagers.
Other speakers at the meeting, however, called on RT not to get involved in what they say is really an international political effort to isolate Israel economically by going after companies that do business with that country’s government. A previous effort to get the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op board to boycott Israeli products failed.
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G4S provides RT with security guards at light-rail stations, supplementing RT police officers. Its contract is up for renewal later this year. RT officials say the company has performed well in its eight years working for the transit agency. A G4S spokeswoman said her company, based in England and Denmark, adheres to the United Nations human rights principles in its international security work.
RT board Chairman Jay Schenirer and several other board members said they want to keep their focus on choosing contractors that can do a good job for transit locally, and are leery of putting themselves in the position of acting as an international “human rights tribunal” when hiring companies, especially when presented with conflicting accounts.
Schenirer, nevertheless, asked RT staff at last Monday’s meeting to look into what other transit and local government agencies do when setting criteria for hiring partner companies, and bring that information back to the board to discuss at a later meeting.