Karbala’s New Computer System to Prevent Bribery, Abuse and Burning of Official Documents
Authorities in the religious centre of Karbala are planning to computerize their records and start a database of all citizens’ information. They hope it will cut out bribery, long delays, staff abuse and prevent the need to burn millions of documents when they run out of storage.
The most crowded offices in the Iraqi city of Karbala are those occupied by bureaucrats working for the federal and local government: every day, hundreds of locals come here to register land sales, report births and deaths, register marriages and undertake many other similar tasks.
But it’s never easy. The Iraqi ID card, also known as the Civil Status Identification Card, is one of the most important documents an Iraqi can have. It contains a person’s date of birth, family members’ names and marital status. The card is re-issued at various times of a person’s life and every time it is, locals must re-apply.
There are usually delays: for example, a new born child may have to wait three months before it receives such a card and officially becomes an Iraqi. This is important because that is also how long it will take to get the baby’s name entered onto the family’s ration card; a form of social welfare, the ration card system started in the early 1990s after sanctions were imposed on Iraq and it allows card holders to claim a variety of household staples.
Every time a local has to go to a government department they will need to carry an array of documentation with them – things like a certificate of nationality, the ID card, a housing card and the ration card. Often photographs will also be required as are photocopies of the various aforementioned documents.
Interestingly enough – and perhaps somewhat ironically – once a local has applied for whatever they need, the papers are stored for a short time in the department’s offices. However, if they are no longer required, they are burnt.