2008 Cable: Twelve Nepalis taken hostage and killed in 2004 were trafficked into Iraq
The main accused KBR Inc (KBR.N) now walks free since the U.S. appeals court has refused to hold them liable for alleged human trafficking in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 12 Nepalis
1. (U) Summary: A lawsuit recently filed in California against Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc., and Jordanian firm Daoud & Partners for allegedly trafficking 13 Nepalese into Iraq has generated wide interest. Commentators are demanding that the GOJ investigate, prodded along by spurious allegations that the Chief of the Royal Court is involved (septel). In 2005, the Ministry of Labor closed one of the co-conspirator companies named in the lawsuit, Morning Star for Recruitment and Manpower Supply, for its role in facilitating the entry of laborers into Jordan. The company is again operational but not believed to be directly recruiting workers. No other investigations or measures were taken against any of the companies named in the lawsuit. On September 10 Foreign Minister Salah Bashir denied that the MFA or Jordanian Embassy in the U.S. had received any notice of, or had any information about, the lawsuit. Origins of the Lawsuit
2. (U) Family members of twelve Nepalese taken hostage and killed in Iraq in 2004 and a survivor of the incident submitted a lawsuit on August 27 in the Central District Court of California alleging they were trafficked across international borders to provide labor in U.S. military facilities. The complaint is against Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. (KBR), and its Jordanian subcontractor Daoud & Partners (Daoud). Three companies are also listed as co-conspirators and active participants in the trafficking enterprise: Moonlight Consultant Pvt, Ltd (Moonlight), Morning Star for Recruitment and Manpower Supply (Morning Star), and Bisharat & Partners (Bisharat). Moonlight is a Nepalese Company. Morning Star and Bisharat are Jordanian companies as is Daoud & Partners.
3. (U) According to the complaint, Moonlight recruited the plaintiffs through an advertisement for hotel jobs in Amman. Once in Jordan, Morning Star provided the plaintiffs to Daoud, reportedly sub-contracted by KBR to provide workers for their work in Iraq. The plaintiffs were allegedly required to hand over their passports, told there were no hotel jobs and informed they would be working at Al Asad Air Base, north of Ramadi, instead. Daoud then contracted Bisharat to transport the plaintiffs to Ramadi. Bisharat arranged the transportation along the dangerous Amman-to-Baghdad Highway where two weeks earlier, Daoud had seen two drivers kidnapped. Part of the caravan was intercepted, with twelve Nepalese taken hostage and later killed. The surviving plaintiff made it safely to the Air Base.
4. (U) Also according to an article in the Washington Business Journal on July 11, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law ruled in April 2008 that the men's families were entitled to death benefits. The same law firm, Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll PLC, that filed the aforementioned complaint sued, pro bono, Daoud and its insurance company under the Defense Base Act, which is similar to a workers' compensation statute for military facilities overseas. Daoud was ordered to pay $100,000 to the families of each victim. KBR was not part of the lawsuit because the relevant insurance policy was written in the name of Daoud. Legal Actions
5. (U) On March 17, the Jordanian MFA provided post a diplomatic note (in response to a February 2008 diplomatic note asking for information for the 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report) stating that Morning Star was closed by the Ministry of Labor in 2005 after its owner, Adnalin Frank Kiko Santos, was summoned to explain its role in this trafficking case after it was detailed in the media. According to the diplomatic note, it was clear that the owner's husband, Iyad Mansur, who had previous experience working with Moonlight, had facilitated the recruitment of the Nepali workers. The note also indicated that the Nepali workers did not enter the country under the name of Morning Star but as transit passengers. MOL officials subsequently confirmed this last point.
6. (U) According to the diplomatic note and several MOL officials, Morning Star itself filed a criminal lawsuit against Iyad Mansur in Amman Criminal Court stating that he individually, and not the company, was responsible for the recruitment of the workers. According to the MOL, the case is still pending and Morning Star is again in business but not directly recruiting workers. No other investigations or actions were taken against any of the co-conspirators (Daoud, Morning Star, or Bisharat) in Jordan. An Agence France-Presse article on September 8 quotes a statement from Daoud that it denies "any role in the unfortunate case" and "does not have any information that a lawsuit was filed against it outside of Jordan." Call for Investigations
7. (SBU) The lawsuit has prompted a flurry of stories and opinion pieces in the Jordanian press. The level of interest can be partially attributed to false assertions that Bassem Awadallah, Chief of the Royal Court, had a stake in one of the companies (septel). Despite the mud being thrown in Awadallah's direction, the underlying messages being aired are that trafficking is serious, that it violates Jordanian law and harms Jordan's interests, and that the allegations detailed in the complaint need to be investigated.
Visit Amman's Classified Website at:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/amman Beecroft Beecroft
NON-PAYMENT OF DEATH BENEFITS BY CONTRACTOR COMPANIES
1. This is an Action Request. Please see final para.
2. Emboff met Riyadh-based Nepalese Charge d'Affaires Prakash Suvedi at his request on May 28, 2007, to discuss allegations of non-payment of death benefits by companies operating in Iraq for the USG. He requested any assistance the USG could offer.
3. Mr. Suvedi presented the Embassy with a diplomatic note No. DM/255 which reads as follows: The Embassy of Nepal in Riyadh, which is concurrently accredited to the State of Kuwait, presents its compliments to the Embassy of the United States of America in Kuwait and has the honour to state that the family members of the following Nepalese nationals who were killed while serving presumably under US contracts in Iraq have been approaching this Embassy with their request to provide them with compensation and insurance.
S.N./Name of the Deceased/Date of Death/Company's Name --------------------------------------------- -------
1. Umesh Thapa May 2, 2007 Taylors
2. Choodamani Sharma Aug 27, 2006 RGS Logistics
3. Chinta Bahadur Pun June 11, 2006 RGS Logistics
4. Chandra Mani Rai Apr 6, 2006 BTB Contractor
5. Bil Prasad alias June 5, 2005 American-Iraq Bin Kumar Gurung Solutions Group
6. Ishwar Bahadur alias Ishwar Man Rai Feb 11, 2004 KBR
7. Indra Bahadur Magar June 24, 2004 Global Security
8. Raman Singh Thapa Aug 14, 2004 Global Security
9. Govinda Raj Limbu Nov 25, 2004 Global Security
10. Tilak Ram Bhat Chhetri Nov 25, 2004 Global Security
11. Bhim Bahadur Gurung Nov 25, 2004 Global Security
12. Gagan Chand Thakuri Nov 25, 2004 Global Security
13. Ram Bahadur Gharti Dec 11, 2004 Olive Security
14. Kishor Rai Dec 16, 2004 Global Security
15. Padam Bahadur Rai April 13, 2005 DOD Contractor
16. Yam Bahadur Thapa April 25, 2006 National Logistics However, the Embassy has been facing difficulties to contact and deal with these companies operating inside Iraq. In view of this problem as well as considering the trauma the bereaved families are undergoing with the death of their breadwinners, the Embassy would like to request the esteemed Embassy of the United States in Kuwait to kindly instruct the concerned companies to pay immediately through this Embassy legitimate dues, compensation and insurance that the legal heirs of the deceased may be entitled to under the prevailing laws and regulations. If the family of some of those Nepalese nationals are already paid by the concerned company directly, the Embassy would like to get documents confirming such payments. In the meantime, all contractors of the Government of the United States should be informed to use the official channel while paying any dues, compensation and insurance money to the family in case of any death of a Nepali national under their sponsorship. [Complimentary close.]
4. Accompanying the dipnote was a dossier with copies of DD Form 1075 (Convoy List of Remains of Deceased Personnel), DD Form 2064 (Certificate of Death (Overseas)), DD Form 890 (Record of Identification Processing), CAC and CPA ID cards, passport biodata pages, various correspondence, insurance policies, a DNA test report, etc. of the deceased listed above. A review of the files reveals that nearly all of the deceased persons were killed by insurgent attacks (IEDs, gunfire, rocket fire, etc.)
5. Kishor Rai (number 14 in dipnote) should read Kishwar RAI per his DoD Contractor ID card issued 2004JUN07.
6. Not listed in the dipnote, but included as a file was a power of attorney for the legal heirs of Agam Bahadur ADHIKARI, deceased 26 June 2005, a truck driver, possibly with Rehal International.
7. Mr. Suvedi asked the USG to apply "moral pressure" on contractors to pay these claims. Emboff offered his sympathy and said he would forward the diplomatic note to Washington.
8. ACTION REQUEST: Please advise post on appropriate response to the Embassy of Nepal's diplomatic note. POC is John Higi, Management Officer,
Iraq Support Unit Kuwait. *********************************************
* For more reporting from Embassy Kuwait, visit:
Visit Kuwait's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/kuwait/ ********************************************* * LeBaron
Note: The main accused KBR Inc (KBR.N) now walks free since the U.S. appeals court has refused to hold them liable for alleged human trafficking in connection with the kidnapping and murder of 12 Nepalis by insurgents. The deceased were being transported in Iraq to work for a subcontractor at a U.S. military base (Reuters).