Mon | Apr 23, 2018

Bring it on! - Gov't scoffs at Opposition's threat to take NIDS to court

Published:Wednesday | February 21, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips
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The threat by Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips to take the Government to court over the recently passed law to establish the National Identification System (NIDS) has not fazed at least one senior minister, who, in turn, has accused the People's National Party (PNP) of engaging in attention-seeking tactics.

"They have nothing to do, so they can continue to talk nonsense. The PNP has nothing relevant to do so they can continue to engage in irrelevance," Justice Minister Delroy Chuck told The Gleaner yesterday in reaction to Phillips' threat made at a PNP meeting in Hayes, Clarendon, on the weekend.

"We plan to go to court over the National Identification Bill because we are not leaving it so!" Phillips announced at the meeting, without giving specifics.

Several concerns have been raised about NIDS, chief 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. Some also view the National ID System as a serious invasion of privacy.

However, Chuck said that he was confident that all aspects of the law were constitutional, contrary to what Phillips has claimed.

The tough-talking senior minister said the opposition leader should bring on the constitutional challenge, warning that it will not succeed.

"Go ahead and sue the Government, but it will be in vain. The threat has no validity," the justice minister, also a lawyer by profession, declared.

"What is being done is quite appropriate and correct. I don't think there is anything unconstitutional about the law. It has been properly approved by the Attorney General's Chambers and it is constitutional."

Chuck said the Government will be moving full speed ahead with the regulations of the law, expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year.

The roll-out of NIDS is slated to begin with a pilot project in January 2019, focusing on civil servants.

In the meantime, the justice minister disclosed that he was unaware of any documents being filed in relation to a constitutional challenge to the NIDS law.

Efforts made yesterday to reach Phillips were unsuccessful.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com