Fri | Apr 19, 2019

PNP's Robinson attributes NIDS victory to strength of Constitution

Published:Friday | April 12, 2019 | 12:53 PM
People's National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson (second left) converses with members of his legal team outside the Supreme Court, downtown Kingston this morning. They are from left: Attorneys-at-law Jennifer Housen, Donna Scott Mottley and Phillip Paulwell.

The People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson is attributing the success of his National Identification and Data System (NIDS) challenge to the strength of the Jamaican Constitution and the protection it provides to citizens. 

“The decision today is a vindication of the value of the Jamaican Constitution and its charter of fundamental rights and freedom and the right it gives to every  Jamaican to ensure the that laws which Parliament enhance is consistent with the charter of rights,” Robinson said this morning following the Constitutional Court's ruling that the NIDS is unconstitutional, null and void and should be struck down.

Robinson lead arguments against the Government that the National Identification and Registration Act, which establishes the NIDS, breached eight of the 25 fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens. 

“The victory today is a victory for the Jamaican people, we took this action on their behalf because we felt based on the provisions in place it challenged the Constitution and it infringed and abrogated the rights of Jamaicans,” Robinson continued.

He noted that at all stages throughout the battle in court, which began six months ago, the Opposition had pleaded with the Government to refer the legislation to a Joint Select Committee, but the request was repeatedly rebuffed.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, who represented the Government, had argued that the matter brought by the Opposition was premature. She stated that neither the NIDS law nor the accompanying regulations have been enacted. 

But in handing down its ruling today, the Constitutional Court said the mandatory requirement for persons to submit biometric data violated the right to privacy, which is a breach of citizens' Constitutional rights.

Robinson said the court’s ruling is critical in that will help all Jamaicans to understand the importance and scope of the new Charter of Right, especially the right to privacy.

Joining in the victory celebration, Opposition Senator Donna Scott Mottley, who was also a member of the PNP’s legal team lead by Michael Hylton, QC, said the ruling was fair and in tandem with the provisions of the Constitution.

“We are absolutely delighted with the ruling; we believe that in all things the Constitution must triumph, and that we see today that the people’s voices were heard,” Scott-Mottley said.

She contended that while Jamaica can benefit from having a National Identification System, such a system must not impair the rights of the people.

“Good intentions cannot permit you to breach the Constitution and we will not allow as Opposition that constitution will be breached,” she said.

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