The U.S. Embassy said the company had no subcontract and no such recruitment was planned. But they are apparently counting on folks not having Google at their finger tips. True, Askar is not the main subcontractor, a company named World Wide Special Operations (WWSO) is.
Mr Bob Kasango, a lawyer with Hall & Partners, said the firm was hired by the World Wide Special Operations (WWSO), who work for and closely with the US government and other international organisations like the World Bank, Coca Cola, and Microsoft Corporation to provide security.
As Opiyo Oloya notes, for anyone familiar "with the cutthroat, multibillion-dollar global security contractor business," the story is all too plausible. We know that the U.S. military, "stretched thin to the breaking point" with the war, told Bechtel, Halliburton, and the other companies rebuilding Iraq to "BYOA--bring your own army."
At first, those firms hired Brits and Americans, mostly ex-military men. But that changed after the families of four highly trained ex-Navy SEALS, who were ambushed and murdered in 2004, brought a negligence lawsuit against the security company the men worked for.
Now the firms are "quietly turning to developing nations." Africans are seen as ideal workers. They're much cheaper to hire than Westerners. And when they die, their survivors "are less likely to launch wrongful-death lawsuits."
Do Africans recruited for high-risk security jobs in Iraq get insurance compensation in the event of injury or death? The answer should be a straight forward, "yes", according to a US law known as Defense Base Act (DBA).
The law states that anyone working for a US government agency or for a company working for the US government anywhere in the world is entitled to DBA compensation. This includes foreign nationals who are not US citizens.
The amount paid as death benefits is "two-thirds of average weekly earnings for two or more eligible survivors up to the current maximum rate of $1,047.16 per week."
On paper, it sounds good. In reality, however, it is a lot more complicated. According to Mr. Richard V. Robilotti, District Director, US Department of Labor, New York Office, in spite of what the law requires, some companies that employ foreign nationals may neglect to report the injuries or deaths of employees.
"If no-one reports the incident to DOL, and the family does not file a claim, we have no way of knowing what has happened," he said. The system, in other words, is totally based on the transparency and honesty of the contracting firm to do what the law says it must do.
In the case of Jacques "Oosie" Oosthuize, a South African security guard killed while working for Erinys Security on May 3 between Tikrit and Mosul, no report of death had been made to the US Department of Labor.
By print time, it was not clear whether the dead man's family had received any compensation at all. Meanwhile, uncertainty about insurance compensation hangs like a dark cloud over the Fijian families of security guards Jim Atalifo, 48, a former Fijian police officer and Timoci Lalaqila, 34, killed when a Blackwater helicopter was shot down near Baghdad last month.
Contacted in Suva by this reporter, widow Ledua Atalifo said she was not sure about compensation, and had never heard about DBA compensation.
Apparently, the benefits of outsourcing are just beginning to be discovered.