Private sector seeks to revive Jamaican ID system

15/04/19

Three private sector groups in Jamaica have said that politicians need to continue pushing for progress on the planned National Identification System (NIDS), which was knocked off course by  a Constitutional Court ruling last Friday.

The groups — the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters' Association – say the underlying broad policy objectives that were sought to be achieved are still of great significance and urgent in modernising the Jamaican society and ensuring that each citizen is accounted for in our advancement towards the achievement of Vision 2030.

The groups added their voices to the NIDS debate in a joint press release yesterday, reported the Jamaica Observer.

The Constitutional Court, in a 309-page written judgement, ruled last Friday that panel declared that the Bill is “unconstitutional, null and void insofar as it is intended to make compulsory the taking of biometric and other data so as to provide a national identification number and card for every citizen and resident of Jamaica. The involuntary nature of the policy infringes guaranteed constitutional rights. Furthermore, the statute seeks to prevent access to services both public and private, or to make possible the denial of such services, to citizens who fail to obtain the said national identification.”

The private sector groups said while the court has properly invalidated the NIDS legislation, there is political consensus on the necessity for implementing a national identification law.

“We strongly urge both political parties to immediately commence consultations, with a view to settling the contentious differences in the legislation and avoiding the provisions which offend our Constitution, so as to return a Bill to the House and enable a smooth and early passage.

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