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Halliburton sued for human trafficking
John Byrne
Published: Thursday August 28, 2008


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Twelve men recruited in Nepal died after forced transfer to Iraq, lawfirm says

Thirteen Nepali men were recruited and held against their will for thirteen months in a human trafficking scheme engineered and perpetrated by Halliburton and its Jordanian contractor, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday in California federal court.

The Nepali men, each between the ages of 18 and 27, were allegedly hired as kitchen staff by the then-Halliburton subsidiary KBR and its Jordanian subcontractor, Daoud & Partners. Once they arrived in Jordan, however, their passports were seized and they were dispatched to Iraq.

"Tragically, as the men were being transported to Iraq, a car containing twelve of the men was stopped by members of the Ansar al-Sunna Army, an insurgent group," the Washington lawfirm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll writes. "The 12 men in the car were taken hostage and executed by the insurgents. The executions were filmed and posted on the Internet. The Inspector General for the United States Department of Defense investigated and confirmed the facts related to the fate of the 12 men, which led to increased enforcement of anti-trafficking measures by the United States."

Only one man survived. After he was released by Iraqi rebels, he said he was assigned to work as a loader/unloader in a US military warehouse facility supervised by KBR. He asserts that he was held for 15 months against his well, before the firm finally allowed him to return home to Nepal.

Cohen, Milstein is suing on behalf of their families and the remaining survivor, Buddi Prasad Gurung. According to the law firm, their families went deep into debt to pay recruiting fees to Halliburton's contractor in order to get promised jobs.

This spring, a judge at the Department of Labor ordered KBR's contractor, Daoud, to pay $1 million to the families of 11 of the victims. "The Inspector General for the United States Department of Defense investigated and confirmed the facts related to the fate of the 12 men, which led to increased enforcement of anti-trafficking measures by the United States," the lawfirm said in a release.

KBR declined to comment directly on the charges when contacted by the Washington Post Wednesday.

"KBR has not seen the lawsuit so it is premature for us to comment at this time," KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne wrote the Post in an e-mailed statement. "The safety and security of all employees and those the company serves remains KBR's top priority. The company in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behavior."

KBR was spun off from Halliburton in a 2006 IPO, and formally disengaged from the company in 2007. The spinoff appears party as a result of negative press relating to allegations the company engaged in overbilling and got sweetheart deals. KBR had been Halliburton's engineering arm for 44 years, and was also accused of overbilling and sweetheart deals during the Vietnam War.

The family members and the survivor are suing under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the Alien Tort Claims Act. The DC lawfirm representing them often focuses on victims of forced and slave labor and other violations of international law.

 
 


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