Sat | Oct 20, 2018

PNP taking NIDS fight to court, accuses PM of being stubborn

Published:Tuesday | February 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips

There is to be legal wrangling over the proposed National Identification System (NIDS), as Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips has signalled that he will be taking the law to the Constitutional Court for it to be struck down.

Phillips, also People's National Party (PNP) president, had been dropping hints of a potential legal challenge to the law, piloted through the Lower House by Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

But it was at a PNP meeting in Hayes, Clarendon, on Sunday that he made clear the next step intended to stop the Government in its tracks.

"We plan to go to court over the National Identification Bill because we are not leaving it so!" Phillips announced, though he did not give further details as to when court documents will be filed.

"We need to resolve this thing quickly," he, however, added.

A seemingly vexed Phillips, who had earlier in his address accused Holness of being "hard-ears", said as opposition leader he would not allow the sections of the law that encroached on the constitutional rights of the people to go unchallenged.

He made it known that he was not pleased with the manner in which NIDS was dealt with the Lower House, pointing out that the Opposition had requested more stakeholder input on the matter, but the Government turned it down.

"We tell them with the National ID System, 'system can work, but you have to give people a chance to debate it and discuss it and take out the parts of it that are unconstitutional'. But, instead, like a bad-man business, dem force it on the people and force it on the Parliament," the opposition leader stated.

"But I tell you what that reveals. Is not just mismanagement and stubbornness that we face with this administration, what we see in this situation with the national ID and how they passed it and what we see with the chief justice appointment is a pattern of disrespect of the democratic traditions of the country."

A number of concerns have been raised about NIDS, among them the fact that it will be mandatory for all Jamaicans to be part of the system, and that failure to do so will attract a $100,000 fine or time in prison. The invasion of privacy rights is also of grave concern.

 

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The Holness administration has given a September deadline for the tabling in the House of Representatives, the National Identification and Registration Authority Regulations.

At the Jamaica Labour Party annual conference last year, Holness promised that he would be embarking on a tour of the island to facilitate discussions with churches and communities.

The prime minister also said then that the introduction of NIDS was not going to bring down any calamity on Jamaica.

In fact, he said the National Identification System would prevent a calamity, as it would improve security by unearthing those persons who lurk in dark corners and who seek to wreak havoc on the lives of decent and law-abiding citizens.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com