When will Iraqis have their credible identity cards?

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By Fatih Abdulsalam

Azzaman, April 24, 2014

For decades Iraq has been passing through a vicious circle of administrative obfuscation. The Interior Ministry which is charged with issuing identity cards, passports or nationality certificates, is not doing its job properly.

Iraq probably needs a new ministry with the title of ‘Ministry of Administrative Affairs’ to tackle problems Iraqis face with their identity cards.

Let us imagine the case of an Iraqi man who is asked to identify himself. Every Iraqi moves around with several identity papers but none of them is sufficient enough for identification even in the eyes of the government bodies issuing them.

Civil status card is not thought to be enough for its carrier to prove identity or nationality. So is the nationality certificate. Both papers are not enough proof of someone holding Iraqi citizenship and therefore rejected in petitions, applications or purchase deals and deeds.

Even a passport is not taken seriously in Iraq, although no passport can be issued in the country without the holder having produced a heavy file of certificates and documents, including nationality and civil status cards.

It is so strange to see the authorities demanding different sorts of documents from Iraqis in order to identify themselves.

But if the authorities decide to detain someone, they storm their home in the middle of the night and place them in jail without trial and without even asking whether they had any documents on them or not.

But when it comes to the general elections, scheduled for the end of the month, the picture differs. Identification is not that difficult. The authorities will accept anyone to cast a vote if they know it will be in their favor regardless of the papers they carry.

In most countries, the passport is enough for identification and sometimes it is sufficient to produce your driving license to identify yourself.

Iraqis deserve to be treated in a civil manner and it is time the authorities agree on one single document as a means of personal identification.