Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Documents Reveal Details of Alleged Labor Trafficking by KBR Subcontractor

The Najlaa Episode Revisited

By DAVID ISENBERG and NICK SCHWELLENBACH at POGO

In December 2008, South Asian workers, two thousand miles or more from their homes, staged a protest on the outskirts of Baghdad. The reason: Up to 1,000 of them had been confined in a windowless warehouse and other dismal living quarters without money or work for as long as three months.

In a typical comment made by the laborers to news organizations at the time, Davidson Peters, a 42-year-old Sri Lankan man, told a McClatchy Newspapers reporter that “They promised us the moon and stars…While we are here, wives have left their husbands and children have been shut out of their schools” because money for their families back home had dried up.

The men came to Iraq lured by the promise of employment by Najlaa International Catering Services, a subcontractor performing work for Houston-based KBR, Inc. under the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III contract.

Now, a cache of internal corporate and government documents obtained by POGO offer insight into this episode of alleged war zone human trafficking by companies working for the U.S.—and suggest that hardly anyone has been held accountable for what may be violations of U.S. law.

The subcontractor, Najlaa, appears to have suffered no repercussions for its role in luring hundreds of South Asian workers to Iraq with promises of lucrative jobs only to turn around and warehouse at least 1,000 of them in dismal living conditions without work—and pay—for several months. In fact, Najlaa continues to win government contracts.

Despite strongly worded “zero tolerance” policies against human trafficking, the U.S. has directly awarded contracts to Najlaa after the December 2008 protests, including one contract that lasts through 2012.

The Najlaa Incident: An Accountability Case Study

The freshly unearthed documents show that for several months, KBR employees expressed exasperation at Najlaa’s apparent abuse of the laborers and said the subcontractor was embarrassing KBR in front of its main client in Iraq: the U.S. military. But despite its own employees’ strongly worded communications to Najlaa, to this day, KBR continues to award subcontracts to the company.

The documents also suggest that Najlaa rehired former KBR employees who were terminated for what appear to be trafficking-in-persons violations. It is not clear what, if any, repercussions these employees faced besides their termination.

Additionally, the documents raise questions about government officials’ response in the wake of the 2008 protests by Najlaa employees. Although, at the time, the press reported that the U.S. government was investigating alleged trafficking by Najlaa, it has not led to any prosecution or termination of the subcontract. A Sri Lankan company that supplied laborers to Najlaa told POGO it complained about Najlaa’s abusive practices to both KBR and the U.S. government, but said that U.S. law enforcement agencies never followed up.

Please read this entire report here

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, KBR, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Blackwater worker gets 37 months in Afghan’s death

Bill Sizemore The Virginian Pilot  June 14, 2011

NORFOLK  A former Blackwater contractor from Virginia Beach was sentenced to 37 months in prison today for involuntary manslaughter in the 2009 shooting death of a civilian in Afghanistan.

Christopher Drotleff is the first contractor for the Moyock, N.C.-based security company now known as Xe Services to get prison time for killing a civilian in a war zone. A second man, Justin Cannon of Corpus Christi, Texas, has been convicted in the same case and faces sentencing later this month.

The two were charged with murder and tried twice. Their first trial, in September, ended in a hung jury. The manslaughter convictions in their March retrial appeared to be a compromise verdict.

Drotleff and Cannon were working for Paravant, a Blackwater subsidiary, providing weapons training for the Afghan army under a Defense Department subcontract when their two-vehicle convoy became involved in a traffic accident in Kabul, the Afghan capital, in May 2009.

They were off duty at the time and had been drinking, according to testimony.

Fareed Haji Ahmad, driving home from dinner with a co-worker, approached the scene in his Toyota Corolla and offered to help, he testified. He became confused, he said, when three men waved him on but a fourth told him to stop.

When he drove off, Drotleff and Cannon opened fire on the retreating vehicle, according to testimony. Ahmad’s passenger, Romal Mohammad Naiem, was killed.

A pedestrian, Rahib Mirza Mohammad, out walking with a friend and a dog, was also shot in the back of the head and died a month later. The contractors were acquitted of charges in his death.

Please read the entire story here

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Xe | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liberian police holding top mercenary

By RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, Associated Press   June 14, 2011

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — A notorious mercenary known as “Bob Marley” who is accused of leading massacres in Ivory Coast to help that country’s tyrannical leader secure his slipping grip on power is in police custody in his native Liberia, officials said Tuesday.

National Liberian Police Spokesman George Bardu said the self-proclaimed general was arrested several weeks ago along with about 10 of his fighters in the pocket of southeastern Liberia where he went to hide after the fall of his employer, Ivory Coast’s strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

Marley was the leader of the mercenaries hired to help Gbagbo, who lost last year’s presidential election and then used force to stay in office for five violent months. Early in the conflict, Gbagbo recruited mercenaries from Liberia because he did not trust the regular army whose soldiers defected en masse when troops aiming to install democratically elected president Alassane Ouattara fought their way to the capital.

Liberia National Police Chief Marc Amblard said Marley, whose nom de guerre is a reference to his voluminous dreadlocks, and the other men have been charged with ‘mercenarism.’

Nelson Chineh, the magistrate in whose court the men are to face the charge, said they had been transported to Liberia’s capital of Monrovia after being initially held in Zwedru.

An official close to the investigation who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the press said that Marley was released soon after being arrested. He was re-arrested in late May after Ivorian officials put pressure on their Liberian counterparts.

“The arrest of Bob Marley sends a strong signal, marking a first step towards justice,” said Matt Wells, a researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, and the author of a report on the crimes committed in Ivory Coast. “We credibly implicated him in leading massacres in which a total of more than 100 people were executed.”

Please read the entire story here

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Mercenaries | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq expells 6 US congressmen

The Iraqi government has expelled six US congressmen from the country. The decision was so shocking to the US embassy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, that only 24 hours later the US embassy declared that the congressmen had made personal statements

Press TV June 14, 2011

What raised the Iraqis’ anger was a request by these congressmen that Iraq pays a portion — and even up to a half — of the expense of the US occupation of this country. The US delegation of congressmen had also requested a visit to Camp Ashraf, whish was also opposed by Iraqi authorities.

This decision of the Iraqis was welcomed by various factions within the Middle Eastern country to a point where even Ayad Alawi’s faction, which enjoys warm ties with Saudi Arabia and the US, wasn’t able to disagree with it.

The US did not enter Iraq at the invitation of executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein for the Americans to want to ask for compensation from the next Iraqi government.

Furthermore, US troops were never welcomed as ‘freedom forces’ by the Iraqi people.

The murders that US troops have committed in Iraqi prisons or on the streets of various Iraqi cities have not left a positive impression of the US military on Iraqi citizens. Despite the fact that the US forces ousted Saddam, Iraqi citizens never believed that these efforts were aimed at freeing them from dictatorship and not aimed at protecting US interests.

The monthly cost of maintaining US troops in Iraq was USD 4.4 billion in 2003 and USD 12 billion in 2008. So far the US has spent nearly USD 1.8 trillion in Iraq in the form of military hardware and personnel. Some analysts from within the US have even put this figure much higher than the official amount.

In September 2010, the Iraqi government agreed to pay USD 400 million in damages to the US for damages incurred during Saddam Hussein’s regime. In its 60th assembly last May, the Iraqi parliament agreed to pay this amount. The decision was met by widespread protests by the people and various political groups.

The US government has never officially asked Iraq to share the cost of the war but it tries to compensate itself by exclusively granting military and civil reconstruction projects to US companies.

Please read the entire story here

June 14, 2011 Posted by | Iraq, Politics, State Department | , , | Leave a comment