Families of the 13 Nepali security guards killed in a Taliban attack on the Canadian Embassy in Kabul in 2016 and the Canadian government which they had sued, have come to a court settlement on compensation.
The case was filed in 2018 at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in Toronto by five Nepali soldiers wounded in the attack and 13 widows of those killed for $20.4 million in compensation.
They alleged that Sabre International, the security company that had been hired by the Canadian government to guard the embassy, had provided an unacceptably low compensation to some of the families before closing the shop.
After the attack, Sabre International terminated its contract with the Canadian embassy, and shut down all its contact offices in Afghanistan and in Nepal. Sabre is no longer operating, and a legal notice is yet to be served to it.
The lawsuit was filed on the eve of the second anniversary of the Kabul attack. On 20 June 2016, 13 Nepali guards were killed and five injured when they were travelling to the Canadian embassy on an unarmored bus. A lone suicide bomber blew the bus.
The Vancouver-based Canadian lawyer for the plaintiffs, Joe Fiorente confirmed to Canadian Broadcasting that a settlement had been reached, but he refused to provide further details because of possible implications for the families in Nepal.
“I can tell you the families were satisfied with the settlement and that they are confident the Government of Canada has recognised the sacrifice and service of those gentlemen who were protecting our embassy in Kabul at the time of the bombing,” Fiorante told CBC News.
The families had first filed a case against Ottawa and Sabre International, and were promised $300,000 which never materialised.
The slain Nepali guards lived in dorms away from the embassy, and used to make a risky journey by bus to their duty station every day following the same route. The plaintiffs have asked the Canada government what measures it had taken to protect the Nepalis guarding its people and property in Kabul.
There are still about 9,000 Nepali security guards employed in Afghanistan according to official records, but the number is said to be much higher. The deaths of the Nepalis also exposed how desperate Nepalis sought employment in some of the riskiest war zones in the world, and were not sufficiently protected with insurance and compensation.