Wed | May 22, 2019

No human rights blemish on my watch – Holness

Published:Wednesday | April 17, 2019 | 12:29 AMLivern Barrett/Senior Parliamentary Reporter

Less than a week after the Constitutional Court ordered that the National Identification and Registration Act (NIRA) be struck from the books, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has signalled his personal commitment to ensuring that his administration is not stained by human-rights abuses.

Holness, who was speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday during the debate on the extension of the zones of special operations in Denham Town, west Kingston, and Mount Salem, St James, avoided any reference to the ruling, which dealt a blow to the law on which the National Identification System was being rolled out.

The court ruled that NIRA was unconstitutional, null and void, and of no legal effect.

“One thing we have committed to – as a Government and myself personally – is that our Government must never be blemished by human-rights abuses,” he said.

“One thing I am committed to as a Jamaican is to protect the rights of all citizens,” Holness declared.

The comments came after opposition member of parliament for South St Catherine, Fitz Jackson, suggested, in sotto voce remarks, that the prime minister appeared “uncomfortable with the Charter of Rights” included in the Constitution.

Holness, in his response, acknowledged that “it is not an easy job to manoeuvre within the parameters that are set to address the issues”.

“As we are transforming the institutions to reflect what we all would want to see and aspire to as a young, democratic nation that is maturing, we also have to deal with the mayhem that is happening in our communities,” he continued.

There has been no word from the Government since it issued a statement shortly after the court ruling last Friday saying it was studying the judgment.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com