Sat | Oct 20, 2018

First step in NIDS court challenge today

Published:Friday | June 8, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barett/ Senior Gleaner Writer
Opposition Senator, Sophia Fraser-Binns

The first step in the legal battle over sections of the National Identification System (NIDS) Act begins today.

Government lawyers and attorneys for the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) are scheduled to appear before a High Court judge for a case-management hearing to plot the way forward for the highly anticipated legal battle.

"We are going to be setting dates to file affidavits, dates to exchange legal arguments, and we could also set a trial date," said Sophia Fraser-Binns, one of the attorneys representing the PNP.

The NIDS Act was passed into law last year and is expected to be rolled out over three years, starting in September. The legislation makes it mandatory for Jamaican citizens or persons residing in Jamaica to enrol in order to access some government services.

The PNP is contending, however, that sections of the act infringe on a citizen's right to privacy, right to a passport, and an individual's right to due process.

"We believe that there are tremendous benefits to be derived from organising our nation's public administration. However, this bill, which was rushed through the Parliament, is flawed," PNP President Dr Peter Phillips said last month when he announced the legal challenge.

"We believe that there are elements of the bill that infringe on the basic constitutional rights of our citizens. It was poorly drafted as may be seen by the fact that there were some 264 amendments to the bill in the Parliament, which is perhaps a record as far as public legislation is concerned," added Phillips.