Courts to be given latitude to impose penalties under national ID system
Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, says the government will allow the courts to impose community service and other measures instead of fines in cases where Jamaicans fail or refuse to enrol in the national identification system.
Johnson Smith made the disclosure while opening the debate on the National Identification and Registration Bill in the Senate Friday morning.
Enrolment is mandatory and persons who fail or refuse to register without reasonable excuse will commit an offence for which they can be fined up to $100,000.
Johnson Smith noted that the provision for fines will not come into force until three years after the bill takes effect.
There have been criticisms about making registration mandatory.
The Leader of Government Business in the Senate argued that Jamaica is not a naturally disciplined society and the government has to act in such a way to ensure that Jamaicans are compliant and that the system works.
She argued that far too many persons do not have identification and are in effect invisible to the state.
According to Johnson Smith, identification is a fundamental issue.
She sought to assure that the government will use up-to-date international best practices to ensure the registration database is secure.
National Identification and Registration Bill seeks to facilitate the establishment and regulation of a system for the registration, verification, and authentication of the identities of citizens and other persons residing in Jamaica; and the establishment of a National Civil and Identification Database to generate national identification cards.
It also provides for the establishment of the Registrar General’s Department as the National Identification and Registration Authority, which will have responsibility for the project’s implementation.