< < >

2020 | U.S. Department of Defence Report on Ex Gratia Payments in the Event of Property Damage, Personal Injury, or Death that was Incident to U.S. Military Operations in Foreign Countries During 2019

This slender report by the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DoD) lists and provides limited information about ex gratia payments offered in 2019 by the U.S. government, to civilians who were injured, suffered the loss of a relative or whose property was damaged as a result of U.S. military actions in foreign countries. The report explicitly states that ex gratia payments are not required by law, nor meant to compensate the victim or the victim’s family, but are rather offered to express condolence, sympathy and goodwill.

The report refers to ex gratia payments made in Iraq and Afghanistan only. This is remarkable since the DoD, in its 2019 Annual Report on Civilian Casualties In Connection with United States Military Operations, listed 132 civilian deaths and 91 injuries as a result of U.S. military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Somalia. In Syria, 21 deaths and 11 wounded civilians were recorded in 2019, while in Somalia 2 civilians were killed and 3 wounded. Does the fact that this report is silent on ex gratia payments to Syrian and Somalian victims mean that these victims were not offered any form of redress?

The report shows that in 2019, 611 ex gratia payments were offered in Iraq and Afghanistan, amounting in total to USD 1,544,116. These payments break down into condolence payments, battle damage payments and so called Hero payments (made to the surviving spouse or next of kin of host-nation defence or police personnel killed by the enemy forces for working in support or defence of Coalition forces). In Iraq no more than six ex gratia payments were made (all condolence payments ranging from USD 1.500 – 10,000), versus 605 in Afghanistan (comprising condolence payments ranging from USD 169 – 24,000, battle damage payments ranging from USD 7 – 25,000 and Hero payments).

It is clear from the report that some ex grazia payments are made in response to requests by the victims or their families, while others are “used by commanders …to support mission objectives” and are not necessarily predicated on requests. This may partially explain the enormous discrepancies in the number and amounts of the payments listed here.