Obtaining a passport from an intermediary is subject to conditions (Joseph Eid / AFP)
Mediation has become a policy pursued by the bodies and institutions of the Syrian regime in addressing the provision of public services to the population in Damascus and other Syrian cities. Organized brokerage networks are proliferating to facilitate the population’s access to services in various fields, while the regime government has failed to improve the quality of services provided.
Many Syrians at home and abroad are forced to pay large sums of money to obtain government documents. Despite the fees set for these documents, intermediaries, in cooperation with security and civil authorities within the official departments, seek to submit these documents in exchange for large sums of money.
However, those who turn to intermediaries are mostly forced to do so, as the regime refuses to provide them with any documents on the pretext that they are wanted. While some use intermediaries’ networks to expedite the issuance of letters and to prevent government agencies from entering into routine and bureaucratic transactions, intermediaries are active in issuing official documents to persons wanted by the regime wherever they are, within or abroad. .
Residents of Damascus suffer from the slow progress of their transactions and the obstruction of some of them by employees connected to brokerage networks who take advantage of their need to obtain official letters. Brokerage operations are very active, especially in light of the regime’s failure to resolve the years-long passport crisis. Last March, the Interior Ministry announced the arrest of two officers and nine elements linked to brokerage networks and involved in corruption. files and taking bribes estimated at tens of millions, including They are accused of forging official stamps and organizing irregular passport transactions in exchange for large sums of money.
It should be noted that the regime government imposed on them within Syria financial fees estimated at around 50,000 Syrian pounds (about US $ 20) instead of a regular passport and 75,000 pounds (about $ 30) instead of an emergency passport, while is decided. for those abroad, $ 300 instead of a regular passport and $ 800 instead of an urgent passport.
Last April, Walid Hassan, 33, decided to get a passport despite being required for backup service, so he turned to an intermediary working at the Damascus Immigration and Passport Branch. Hassan tells Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that, “After explaining my case to the mediator, he put me in front of two options: the first is to get my passport while I’m inside Syria, and the second is to smuggle it out after leaving it in Lebanon. and so get the passport from the embassy in Beirut. ”However, he chose the former, as it was less expensive.
Thus, Hasan has agreed with the mediator to get his passport for two thousand dollars, to be paid after receiving the passport within just one week of receiving the offer. He added: “The broker took me an identity photo, fingerprints on a small piece of paper, my signature and personal photos,” emphasizing that the broker’s condition for obtaining a passport is not to be used inside Syria. This means that he can not use it to leave Damascus airport and can not renovate it from one of the Syrian embassies so that the broker is not exposed and thus the whole network is exposed. The mediator asked Hassan, after the expiration of his passport (duration two and a half years) and his departure from Lebanon to another country, to destroy it and issue a new one.
The work of brokerage networks is not limited to the issuance of passports. Ali Muhammad (29), for example, is a Syrian living in Lebanon who wanted to travel to Turkey to work, but the Ankara Embassy in Beirut asked him for a legal document stating that he “was not convicted. “. Muhammad told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed: “I contacted a lawyer in Damascus and asked for a document stating that I was not convicted. After about 10 days, the lawyer informed me of the possibility of doing so for $ 600, in provided I do not use it inside Syria.I sent him the requested amount and a copy of his ID.Just three days later my brother received in Damascus the document translated and certified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In this context, lawyer Fadi, who issued the document to Muhammad and refused to reveal his identity to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, tells Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “the palace of justice is more filled with intermediaries than lawyers, to the point that we no longer know the lawyer through the mediator. ”Fadi reportedly works at a law firm in Damascus, which includes more than ten lawyers.
Fadi says: “Sometimes in our daily work and with various issues related to people’s lives, there is something that needs to be dealt with illegally, knowing that they are somewhat legal.” He explains that “issuing a university degree to a person abroad, for example, requires security clearance. It can only be obtained through mediation networks located in the Palace of Justice and linked to security authorities.”