Iraq News

Mosul residents replace ISIS-issued documents with legal ones

By Khalid al-Taie

Displaced Mosul residents visit government offices to request legal identification documents, replacing the illegal documents the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' forced them to obtain under its control of the city. [Ninawa Directorate of Identification]

Displaced Mosul residents visit government offices to request legal identification documents, replacing the illegal documents the 'Islamic State of Iraq and Syria' forced them to obtain under its control of the city. [Ninawa Directorate of Identification]

With the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) ousted from eastern Mosul, residents can now obtain new, legitimate Civil Status Identity Cards and other official documents.

During the time ISIS controlled the city, the group confiscated citizens' official documents and replaced them with its own illegitimate documents and certificates.

Iraqi authorities are today working to overcome the confusion ISIS caused to citizens' civil records and to re-register birth and death certificates and marriage contracts.

Dozens of Mosul residents can be seen daily lined up in front of the Nationality Directorate office in the town of Bartella, east of Mosul, waiting for their turn to obtain new identification documents.

Mohammed Salah, 37, a resident of al-Muthanna neighbourhood, said he was blessed with a daughter named Haneen over a year ago, but he never registered her birth with the city's Health Directorate, which ISIS had renamed the Health Diwan, so she would "not receive a document issued by that terrorist organisation".

"I was sure that our city's inevitable liberation was coming [and] I did not in any way want for my daughter to carry any ID other than an official one, even if it cost me my life," he told Diyaruna.

"After a review, my daughter was recorded in my family's civil registry and I got a Civil Status ID and a nationality certificate [for her]," he said.

Repairing ISIS's chaos and destruction

ISIS has brought chaos and destruction to all aspects of life, including citizens' official documents, said Iraqi lawmaker Intisar al-Jubury, a member of the parliamentary committee for women, family and childhood.

When liberation began and residents were freed from the militants' domination, "national efforts focused on consolidating citizens' rights and addressing the challenges related to this issue", she told Diyaruna.

It is easy for parents who have official IDs or a civil record to register their children born under ISIS's rule, she said.

Parents only need to obtain a court order proving the kinship with testimonies from two witnesses and to register a birth announcement in the Health Directorate in order for the child to be issued identification documents.

If the couple got married with an illegal contract issued by ISIS and has had children, they must first legally register their marriage with the court, according to al-Jubury.

"In case a woman married an Iraqi national during ISIS's rule and the husband died, went missing or left her, she has the right to file a lawsuit, obtain her rights in court, and register her children under their parents' names," she said.

A woman also has the right to "legally annul the marriage if it was forced on her and not done of her own free will, such as forced marriages to ISIS fighters", al-Jubury said.

"We are trying to overcome any obstacles that can affect people's resumption of their normal lives," she said.

The Iraqi judiciary is looking to repair what ISIS has corrupted in the civil status system, said legal expert Tariq Harb, head of the Legal Culture Association.

The terrorist group has left behind many problems in Mosul, he said.

These problems "are not new, though, as they have already been experienced in Anbar, Diyala and Salaheddine," he told Diyaruna. "Today Ninawa courts and directorates are handling them as their counterparts previously did in other liberated provinces."

The judiciary has resolved all questions, even in rare or complicated cases, to ensure that official papers are issued for citizens and they obtain the rights guaranteed to them by the constitution, Harb said.

Psychological effects of ISIS control

Courts settle many of the legal issues related to the registration of births, deaths and marriages, said Iraqi human rights activist Hana Adwar, head of the al-Amal Association.

However, she said, an other important aspect that must not be overlooked in the wake of ISIS's rule is the massive psychological trauma caused to women who were forced to marry or were raped by ISIL elements and gave birth to their children.

Many of these women live in a difficult psychological condition and do not wish to turn to the courts or official offices, or even to acknowledge their children, who have done nothing wrong, Adwar told Diyaruna.

In these cases, "the court needs to intervene [and work] together with organisations to treat these traumas and help women overcome their crisis and be part of society", she said.

"We need more mental health specialists and an exceptional, long effort in order to solve this problem," she added.

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