Students have called on the University of Glasgow to divest from a company linked to Donald Trump’s US immigration enforcement operations which left 13,000 children being separated from their families.
Accenture — an Irish-based technology firm that operates in 120 countries — says ethics and human rights are “key drivers” of its business strategy.
But students have condemned the university for having shares in the company, arguing the academic institution should be “ashamed” of investing in firms linked to alleged human rights violations.
As part of a national campaign against the expansion of the UK Government’s so-called hostile environment, students are calling on universities to divest from border and surveillance industry (BSI) firms including Accenture.
Glasgow University said it has raised concerns with governments and businesses over human rights issues.
Border control agencies worldwide are increasingly using biometrics such as fingerprints and iris-scans, a technology sector Accenture is involved in. Its contracts included one in the US worth £222m to recruit 7,500 border patrol agents for Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
The petition said: “We ask you to cancel the $297m (£222m) contract our company has with CBP to hire more CBP officers. Trump’s executive order on Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements called for hiring 7,500 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
It continued: “Accenture is currently providing CPB with the recruiting and processing capabilities necessary to fulfill this aggressive hiring agenda, which in turn gives CBP and ICE capacity to expand their inhumane policies.
“These include the internment of thousands of immigrant children, and the grave mistreatment of immigrant families. As we write, 13,000 children are currently detained and separated from their families.”
TNI’s report also claimed that Accenture had “used the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ of 2015 to promote its biometric identification systems as a means to register refugees swiftly.”
David Gabra, a member of Glasgow University Arms Divestment Coalition said Glasgow University should be “ashamed of investing in industries that profit from those seeking safety”.
He added: “It is laughable that the University of Glasgow has just been awarded the title of ‘University of Sanctuary’, which commends them for their openness to refugees and asylum seekers.”
In reply the University of Glasgow said it took the decision not to invest in tobacco companies and to actively disinvest in those dealing in fossil fuel.
A university spokesperson added: “The university decided against currently disinvesting in companies in the defence and IT sectors (including major local employers such as BAE Systems), but has lobbied governments and businesses against licences being granted to companies which are classed by the UK Government as having committed, or are at risk of committing, human rights abuses.”
Accenture has been asked to comment.
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