NIDS law struck down by court
The Constitutional Court has struck down the National Identification and Registration Act.
Some US$68 million was earmarked for the implementation of the National Identification and Registration System (NIDS), which the Government said was a crucial crime-fighting and doing-business tool.
The landmark ruling was handed down by the Full Court comprising Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, Justice Lisa Palmer Hamilton and Justice David Batts. In delivering the judgment, Justice Sykes said certain aspects relating to privacy issues such as the requirement for people to submit biometric information is a breach of persons' constitutional rights to privacy.
If the NIDS remained, anyone resident in Jamaica would have been obligated, by law, to register for an identity card, which will require persons to provide biometric information – the specifics of which are yet to be determined – as proof of identity.
Failure to register for NIDS would not only be a criminal offence, but preclude people from accessing government services.
The challenge to the legislation was brought to the court by the People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary Julian Robinson on behalf of himself, his constituents in St Andrew South East, and the members of the PNP. Robinson claims that there are several constitutional violations of citizens’ rights in the act.
Following the ruling of Friday morning, Robinson said the striking down of the law demonstrates the importance of the right to privacy. He also said the court's ruling places a burden on the State to be respectful of people's constitutional rights.
"We are in support of a national identification system...What we were against were the provisions, which we believed to be unconstitutional, and the court has agreed," Robinson said.
Opposition senator Donna Scott Mottley, who was part of the PNP's legal team, said, "We believe that in all things the Constitution must strive,"
"We know that Jamaica can benefit from having a national identification system but that system must never impair the rights of the people."