Friday, March 2, 2012


Kidnap and Ransom issues


While it may be "out of scope" for most business continuity practitioners, it's well within the purview of enterprise risk management practitioners.

"It" is the threat of personnel being kidnapped. (By extension, "it" can include product being high jacked.)

This was brought to mind by an article titled "4 Facts About Kidnap and Ransom" at

According to the article's sub-head, "Fueled by continued social and economic unrest, kidnappings are one of the fastest-growing criminal industries."

According to Control Risks’ 2012 RiskMap, the countries ranking highest among the world’s kidnapping hotspots are

  1. Nigeria
  2. Pakistan
  3. Mexico
  4. Afghanistan
  5. Venezuela
  6. India
  7. Philippines
  8. Iraq
  9. Honduras
  10. Colombia

The article is pitching Kidnap and Ransom insurance, but it should get risk management people thinking about the dangers of doing business outside your home area. The "home area" weasel words are deliberate since "outside" could include any high crime area, and every country has at least one such location.

If nothing else, consideration should be given to what the organization would do if one of its staff - or anyone working on its behalf - was kidnapped.

What are the options? The options may depend as much on the kidnappers' politics as on the location.

The same applies to goods.

As with all things "risk management," practitioners need to seek out Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) wherever they are found - the U.S. State Department could be helpful, for example, but probably should not be the only source. Based on the SME input, means to avoid or mitigate the risk need to be considered.

Perhaps a change of venue will suffice to avoid a kidnapping. An alternate route could be enough to protect product. On the other hand, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the probability of kidnapping, among them traveler awareness training and body guards. There also are a number of simple, no-brainer, actions the traveler can take (such as varying routes and schedules).

This scrivener is neither an insurance SME nor a security SME (nor do I play one on tv), but I do know people who are SMEs in these areas and I don't hesitate to ask that they share their expertise with me.

If there are people within the organization that have the expertise, who are SMEs in insurance and security, take advantage of that knowledge. If the organization lacks such people on staff, seek out professionals. A small consulting fee can provide a major ROI if someone - or something - is destined to visit a risk area. Similar to the old Purolator commercial: Pay me now or pay me later.

Once a course of action is decided, formalize it (even if there are many options) into policies and procedures so that everyone - traveler and management alike - know what to expect "in the event of."

If I wrote it, you may quote it.

Longer articles at

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