More Than 800 Iraqis and Afghans Have Filed for Compensation over Civilian Deaths

Sunday, April 04, 2010
(photo: AP)

For many Iraqi and Afghan civilians who have suffered losses at the hands of American soldiers, getting compensated for dead relatives or damaged property often results in denials or bureaucratic redirections that lead to small payments.

After filing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union uncovered more than 800 claims by citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan against the U.S. government through the U.S. Foreign Claims Commissions and the Commander’s Emergency Response Program. A review of the claims showed that many foreign nationals were denied requests for financial compensation due to the “combat exemption” to the Foreign Claims Act which says the U.S. is not responsible for injuries or damages inflicted on residents of foreign countries by American soldiers during combat. At best, many innocent civilians received a maximum of $2,500 for the loss of a relative.
“With more U.S. forces being sent into civilian areas in Afghanistan, it is critical that the American public be informed about what is at stake,” said Nasrina Bargzie, an ACLU counsel, in a prepared statement. “These newly released records illustrate that innocent civilian victims and their families are still not being appropriately compensated for their losses. Now that this problem has been brought to light, we hope the Obama administration will be compelled to reform the broken civilian compensation program.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff


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