Letters to the Editor

'Hard ears' led us to NIDS ruling

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

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Dear Editor,

The recent ruling against Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his Government by the Supreme Court of Jamaica on the constitutionality of the national identification system (NIDS) Act is a stark reminder that all is not lost with our justice system.

We must, in the strongest terms, condemn Holness and his Government for their reckless and contemptuous defiance to the possibility that the courts could rule against them in the suit brought by the People's National Party (PNP).

Now, because of their actions millions of dollars have been thrown down the drain, which will have to be repaid by an already overburdened taxpayers.

What is even more contemptuous is that the Government recently signed a contract for $31.7 million for a local consortium to provide critical data centre hardware for NIDS — all this against the ruling of the Supreme Court hanging over their heads.

Holness had better be careful he does not go down in history as "Papa Unconstitutional" for his frequent run-ins with the constitutional courts of Jamaica.

What are the motives of Holness and his Government with this NIDS? They rushed it through both Houses of Parliament despite several concerns by legal luminaries and civil society. It went through the Senate with over 180 amendments, which shows that there were inherent weaknesses in how the Bill was drafted.

Now, who is going to be held accountable for this fiasco and foul up, remembering that the funding for NIDS come from an Inter-American Development Bank loan?

That a Government would use its majority to rush a Bill through our Parliament, even though it infringes on our constitution and the rights of ordinary citizen, is cause for great concern. In any serious jurisdiction those responsible would voluntarily offer their heads to the chopping block, but in Jamaica it is business as usual.

The sticky situation of "hard ears" is why the Government has found itself in this mess, as well as the other cock-ups since the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) formed this Administration in 2016. They listen to no one!

I hope this ruling by the Supreme Court will make them change the way in which they deal with our participatory democracy, and for them to reflect on the notion that even the dull and the ignorant too have a story.

Fernandez Smith

Former JLP Councillor


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