Updated: Nov 8, 2020

It is always sad when we see a hostage die.

The Swiss foreign ministry says Beatrice Stoeckli, kidnapped four years ago by alleged al-Qaeda fighters, has been killed in Mali. She was, as far as I know, part of a group of missionaries when kidnapped. As always, the official response is one of the wringing of hands. Ignazio Cassis, Swiss Foreign Minister: “It was with great sadness that I learned of the death of our fellow citizen. I condemn this cruel act and express my deepest sympathy to the relatives.”

In fact, there is not much that the Swiss Government could have done besides “quietly negotiating in the background.” The message here is that people should wake up to the fact that their Western Nation passports are not going to necessarily save them once captured. Terrorists see them as prime targets. Criminals too. And there is an intense, even logical, dislike to all citizens of countries whose aircraft bomb Muslims daily.

I don’t know the victim and I have no idea if she received any type of hostage prevention and survival training before she went to Mali. I don’t even know if training might have kept her alive, but I do know for a fact that knowledge, training, can save your life and reduce the odds against you. Nor do I wish to make an “advertisement” out of this for the JKLS Hostage Prevention and Survival Briefing that we offer, dedicated to sub-Saharan Africa. No. My point is simply that it is criminally negligent, reckless, in fact, to send someone to a place where a hostage incident can take place without equipping such a person to deal with the reality of the threat. It is a matter of time before the victim or his family will be suing the negligent, perhaps reckless, employer. That will bring massive negative publicity and affect the share price. And perhaps that will be a good thing too. As far as I am concerned all directors and senior management working in sub-Sahara Africa should be trained in reducing the risks. Yes, life might still happen, there are no guarantees, but at the same time, we need not be reckless with life either. Nevertheless, less than 2% of companies bother with hostage training. My sincere condolences are with the victim and her family. May this never happen again.

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