Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Supreme Court to start hearing PNP's challenge to NIDS Act tomorrow

Published:Sunday | October 21, 2018 | 1:51 PM
People's National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson

The Supreme Court will tomorrow start hearing arguments in the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) challenge to the National Identification and Registration (NIDS) Act.

The action is being brought by PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson, on behalf of himself, his constituents and members of the party. The action alleges several constitutional violations of citizens’ rights.

The legal team representing the PNP is headed by Michael Hylton, QC, and includes Senator Donna Scott Mottley, Michael Vaccianna and Jennifer Housen. The team is instructed by the firm of Paulwell Frazer Binns. 

The NIDS Act was passed despite a walkout by the Opposition when the government failed to refer the Bill to a Joint Select Committee for further deliberations.

The Opposition contended that various sections of the Act are unconstitutional, and operate as violations to the rights of citizens of Jamaica.

"The Opposition has been consistent in its support for a national identification system which respects the rights of all law-abiding citizens but is deeply concerned with the haste of the passage of the Act which has left several of its provisions wholly inadequate and unlawful," Robinson said in a release today.

"The Opposition feels compelled to pursue the case, and points not only to the necessity to safeguard the constitutional rights (which the Act clearly infringes), but also the government’s failure to discharge its burden in proving that abrogating these fundamental rights of Jamaican citizens, is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” he continued.

Furthermore, Opposition Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, a member of the legal team, said “there is a lot of anxiety surrounding NIDS". 

According to her, "It carries very strong penalties for those who do not register, and the poor may well find themselves serving prison sentences for their inability to pay the hundreds of thousands in fines that will be levied if they do not register."  

She continued: "What is clear from the Act, is that a Jamaican, or any person who has legally made Jamaica their home, could well find him or herself at great disadvantage under the Act, compared to someone who is not a citizen of Jamaica, or have ever even lived in Jamaica.  On these bases alone, it is critical that this matter is ventilated in our highest court.”

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