Press Room

Compensation for Civilian Losses in Kandahar

WASHINGTON, DC—Following reports of $50,000 in compensation offered for each civilian killed by US Staff Sargent Banes in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sarah Holewinski, executive director of war victims advocacy group CIVIC said:

“Compensation can never bring back a loved one, and no monetary value can be placed on a life. However, CIVIC welcomes these payments by the US military as a show of recognition for the suffering of these families.  The US must stand by its obligation to give them the full range of justice, including holding accountable the perpetrator and ensuring any other compensation as dictated by international law. As investigations continue, these families must not be forgotten.

“In cases of wrongful acts, which the incident in Kandahar appears to be, the US military maintains a claims system under the Foreign Claims Act to provide compensation to civilians. These payments are separate and distinct from the “condolence” payments the US military offers to families suffering losses in the course of their combat operations. Such condolence payments average about $2500 for a death, while payments made under the Foreign Claims Act can amount to much more, as they are determined on the basis of cultural standards and a calculus that includes the victim’s age, occupation and other factors.”




Notes to editors:

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Civilian victims may receive monetary payments for harm from various sources.

CONDOLENCE PAYMENTS: The vast majority of US monetary payments for civilian harm comes from condolence payments, also known as solatia or ex gratia payments for “collateral damage”—civilians inadvertently harmed during the course of lawful combat.  These payments average $2500 but may vary considerably. For more information on these condolence payments by ISAF in Afghanistan see our 2010 report on addressing civilian harm.

REPARATIONS are a legal remedy to which victims are entitled for violations of international human rights, humanitarian, and criminal law. Reparations can take the form of financial redress such as compensation, as well non-financial redress such as rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetition.

The FOREIGN CLAIMS ACT (10 USC §2734-2736) provides compensation to foreign nationals for personal injury, death or property damage resulting from ‘noncombat activity or a negligent or wrongful act or omission of Soldiers or civilian employees of the Armed Forces of the United States, regardless of whether the act or omission was made within the scope of their employment’.  Appropriate awards are to be determined in consultation with national laws of the country in which the incident took place.


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