Investors in IT and security giant Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) are being warned over the company’s involvement in the CIA’s illegal programme of rendition and torture.
Legal action charity Reprieve is calling on CSC’s major shareholders to confirm whether investing in the firm is in line with their codes of ethics, following revelations that the contractor played a central role in ferrying detainees between a number of secret prisons and torture sites. The shareholders include the British Government, via Lloyds banking group, as well as a number of European and US household names in the banking and pensions sectors.
Court documents which came to light last year showed that CSC organised rendition flights on behalf of the CIA to carry prisoners between a number of locations, including Guantánamo Bay and notorious ‘black sites’ in North Africa, South East Asia and Eastern Europe – where they were held incommunicado and tortured.
Reprieve has written to 26 investors – including British banks and pension funds – asking them to confirm whether investing in companies implicated in torture is compatible with their ethical commitments.
Among these investors are:
- British banks and pension funds: Barclays, Lloyds, HSBC, Prudential, Aviva, Old Mutual, Legal and General, Fidelity
- European banks: Bank of Ireland; Deutsche Bank; the Government of Norway’s funds via Norges Bank
- Major US investment firms: Guggenheim Partners, Blackrock, Vanguard, Dodge and Cox and T. Rowe Price
- The British Government itself, via UK Financial Investments Ltd, which manages Lloyds Banking Group
Reprieve wrote to CSC over a month ago, asking that they “pledge never to be involved in torture in the future,” but the firm has refused to make any such promise.
Reprieve’s Legal Director, Cori Crider said: “The question for these companies is whether investing in a firm which assisted in kidnap and state-sponsored torture can be considered ethical. All we have asked of CSC is a pledge never to be involved in such serious abuses again. They failed to engage with our request, but we now hope that their investors will prove more responsive.”
Notes to editors
1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 427 1082 / firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Documents released last year by Reprieve show how US-based conglomerate, Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), contracted a Richmor Aviation plane, N85VM, to perform renditions on behalf of the CIA between 2003 and 2005.
4. A full list of the investors to whom Reprieve has written, and the text of the letters, is below.