Two forged certificates from the faculties of pharmacy in Damascus and Lattakia
After the launch of so many reconstruction and renovation projects aimed to fix service sector damaged from bombardment and clashes, in addition to establishing new institutions in areas controlled by Turkey-backed rebels, a new dilemma surfaced which is finding enough academic experts to manage these institutions.
More than a year ago, these area suffered from the lack of academic experts in health and engineering specializations, which was a great opportunity for some people who forged certificates to work in these institutions amid the lack of inspection and difficulty in verifying the official papers and certificates during forming job applications.
But after the area witnessed a better stability and the institutions started working, the managers started investigating the source of these papers and discovered dozens of cases of forgery, these cases included forged certificates of medicine, pharmacy and nursing and unlike what was expected the people who bought forged documents don’t apologies for what they’ve done but harass and threaten the employees of violence or killing.
NSO reporter in Aleppo northern countryside investigated this issue in al-Bab city and met couple of civilians who experienced this forgery.
*40 Medical certificates discovered in al-Bab city only
After al-Bab city in Aleppo eastern countryside witnessed more stability and formed the Health Office, the managers of the office witnessed a huge medical mistakes from some “doctors” which wasn’t supposed to be happen from experienced doctors and nurses such as description of the wrong medicine or wrong treatment which made the Health Office to investigate the doctors and their certificates.
The Health Office was formed after al-Bab city was liberated by ISIS, it monitors the medical section including hospitals, pharmacies and even who work in this sector, now in al-Bab city there are 3 hospitals financed by the Turkish government while another bigger hospital is being built to reduce the pressure from the other hospitals.
About the fake certificates exposed by the office, NSO talked to Abdullah al-Ragheb an employee in the Health Office who said: so far in the past few months we exposed 40 doctors, pharmacist, nurse, midwife and technicians who are working in the health sector, the forged documents always have flaws like the stamp, the name of the university or the study years”.
Doctor Ahmad A’abo the head of the Health office in al-Bab local council told NSO a story of a guy who claimed to be a cosmetic surgeon, the person -who Ahmad A’abo didn’t name- applied for the job in al-Hikma Hospital in al-Bab city using a fake medical certificate and he was appointed.
Doctor A’abo added that the hospital’s staff noticed that this person committed several strange medical mistakes like description of wrong medicine or giving overdose to some patients until his sister informed the Health Office which exposed him then he fled to Turkey.
*Some medical mistakes can be fatal
A medical source in al-Bab city told NSO that one of the fake doctors gave a pregnant woman the wrong medicine which ended up in miscarriage, another one who forged a cosmetic surgeon certificate nearly killed a woman while preforming a cholecystectomy surgery on a patient before other doctor stopped him.
The source added that another fake doctor described 5 antibiotics for a 10 years old kid, another nurse who prefers to stay anonymous said that the father of one of the fake doctors informed the office that his son faked a medical certificate and was working for 6 months in a village near al-Bab but escaped to Turkey after he was exposed.
Mahmoud Haj Mohamad a gynecologist told NSO that forging a certificate is like theft because the forger steals other’s jobs and it is more dangerous when forging medical certificates.
Doctor Mahmoud told the story of a fake doctor who described a dangerous medicine for a child and the child was lucky to survive and another story of a cosmetic surgeon who was avoiding cases requiring complicated surgeries.
Doctor Mahmoud continued “i always receive cases with wrong diagnosis, majority come from the countryside with wrong medicine which makes the cases more dangerous”
*A license to practice medicine
After discovering dozens of fake certificates, the Health Office banned doctors and nurses from practicing medicine before getting a license from the Health Office, this license allows the Office to verify the validity of the certificate of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other workers in the health section.
Doctor Ahmad A’abo told NSO: we informed all who have medical certificate to get licenses from office to stop the spraed of fake certificates and to distinguish who has a valid certificates from who depends on previous experience such as pharmacists and nurses, there are many people who show certificates from Ukraine and Russia and their certificates are difficult to verify and impossible to trust.
*Forging teaching certificates
Forging certificates is not limited to health sector, many people applied for job in educational institutions and many worked as teachers or managers in schools.
The deputy of Education Directorate in al-Bab city Jomaa Karkaz told NSO “after establishing the Education Directorate in al-Bab city we discovered more than 25 forged certificates filed by people who were hired in educational institutions, we still expose forged certificates especially after tests for who wants to teach in our schools.
Mr. Kazkaz said that the Directorate exposed 7 people with fake certificates in 1 school and they were given choice to resign or face legal actions and majority admitted and left educational sector, adding that more than 44 forged certificates discovered so far.
Karkaz insisted that the Directorate always try to stop people who have forged documents from working in educational sector and said that when we announce a vacancy hundreds of people apply so we do a written test for all people and choose the best, in the last contest to hire teachers more than 750 applied but we only choose 150.
*Death threats to who trying to expose forgery
Many fake doctors who were exposed left the job and the city but others insist that their certificates are valid even when they are in jail.
As a reaction to exposing forged documents, one of the fake doctors tried to harass the employees who exposed him by machinate drugs in their cars and inform the police while others tried to accuse others of being ISIS spies and called to imprison them while others threatens with killing them.
The doctors and employees who received threats refused to talk about these incidents but their relatives told NSO that there are many evidences that the exposed fake doctors threatens the employees, but all evidences were given to the law including voice records of the threats.
The sources added that one of the employees who exposed some fake doctors was almost assassinated when an exposed fake doctor hired someone to put an IED in his car but the person who was supposed to carry out the assassination contacted the employee and the fake doctor was captured later.
*Law and forging
The forging offices spread out in many areas but majority were in Azaz city where police launched a campaign lately and closed all offices and sent the forgers to jail.
About the forgery offices in Azaz the head of Azaz Health Office Doctor Mouayad Qabtor told NSO that forgery offices were everywhere but more in the city because it was close to the border and the huge number of people who live there, adding that the police and the Local Council is trying to end the forgery issue which affected civilians’ lives.
Doctor Mouayad said: the danger is not in forging medical certificates as we exposed many cases in the city, but also educational and engineering certificates too.
On the other side, Mohamad Fares the head of the Legal Office in al-Bab Local Council told NSO: forgery is considered a serious crime but forging medical certificates is worse because it could harm people’s lives, and of course forging educational certificates is equally important because of the effects on children too.
He added: the rule of the Legal Office is receiving any case connected to forgery and examine the alleged certificate then send it to the court after filing a forgery lawsuit.
He continued: the Interim Government told the local councils to send the certificates to verify it through international organizations or contacting the universities but we didn’t do it yet because we don’t need to do this now.
*Forgery is still ongoing and publicly
Despite the measures taken by the local councils and the police to stop forgery, but the issue is still ongoing and the forgers are still doing their jobs and find customers who didn’t stop working or using their fake certificates.
NSO met a forger who prefers to stay anonymous and said: forgery is still ongoing in Azaz city and many people work in this, the stability in the city flourished this trade and made the city the center of this.
The forger said that he works in forging stamps by Assad regime then buying the blank documents from Assad regime-held areas to write the information then print it.
The forger added that the price for forging university certificates is between 150 and 400$ and there is no certificate can’t be forged according to him.