Jamaican legislators on Tuesday tabled a new National Identification and Registration Act, 2020 (NIDS), in Parliament. The bill has now been referred to a joint select committee of Parliament for deliberations.
The previous law that was ruled unconstitutional by the courts was not reviewed by a joint select committee despite requests from civil society and the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP).
The National Identification and Registration Act 2017, on which NIDS was to be based, was passed in November 2017 without being referred to a joint-select committee for deliberations. But it was struck down by the courts as unconstitutional in 2019.
The proposed new statute makes provisions for voluntary enrolment with the National Registration Authority but allows the individual to cancel the registration.
Under the new bill, the Authority will require biometric information such as facial image, fingerprints, and manual signature, in the case of an individual who is 18 years or older, to enroll a person in NIDS.
The bill also provides for a unique national identification number to be assigned to each person who enrolls with the Authority.
A national identification card will also be issued to enrolled persons.
In introducing the bill in Parliament, Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the proposed law makes provisions for a secure national identification system for the country that has the potential to transform the efficacy and transparency of interactions between the State and citizens.
“The bill will serve as the legal basis for the establishment of a robust, efficient and effective national identification system underpinned by a legal and regulatory framework that supports safe, secure, and reliable verification of identity information for citizens of Jamaica and persons ordinarily resident in Jamaica,” Holness said.