Constitutional Court in Jamaica to rule on PNP challenge on Friday re NIDS

NIDS

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC –  On Wednesday the Constitutional Court in Jamaica said on Friday April 12, it will deliver its ruling on the matter in which the People’s National Party (PNP) is challenging sections of the National Identification and Registration Act,(NIDS)  2017.

Ruling to be streamed live

In a statement, the Court Management Services (CMS) said that In light of the immense public interest in the case and limitations in the seating capacity in the courtroom, the audio of the proceedings will be streamed live on the following websites  www.supremecourt.gov.jm  www.cms.gov.jm  and www.parishcourt.gov.jm.

Section of NIDS breaches constitutional rights

The PNP, through its general secretary, Julian Robinson, had filed an action seeking a declaration that sections of the NIDS legislation breached guaranteed constitutional rights of Jamaican citizens and legal permanent residents of Jamaica.

Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte had been named as the defendant in the case. In which the PNP is also seeking an order that the sections are null and void and should be struck down.

The party said that while it supports the concept of a national identification system and the use of modern technology in the administration of critical government services; however, the NIDS Act is flawed.

The party had argued that the sixth schedule of the legislation among other concerns, further breaches the right of every citizen of Jamaica to be granted a passport and not to be deprived or denied, except by due process of law.

The Fixed Date Claim Form also seeks a declaration that neither the manner nor the extent of the abrogation, abridgement or infringement of the constitutional right is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

The Opposition is further asking for a declaration that the provisions of Chapter 111 of the Constitution are likely to be contravened in relation to the claimant, other Jamaican citizens and legal permanent residents of Jamaica by the provisions of the Act.

But National Security Minister Dr. Horace Chang, speaking on a local radio station late last year, said that the law, which was passed in 2018, was critical for creating a national identification database of Jamaicans.

He said the system would be of greater benefit to those who are less privileged.

The NIDS will also replace several pieces of identification now used by Jamaicans. Persons not registered under the NIDS will be unable to access certain government services.

The CMS said that Chief Justice Bryan Sykes will head the full court panel that includes Justice David Batts, and Justice Lisa Palmer Hamilton, who all  heard submissions from the parties from October 22-24 last year.

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