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Supreme Court to begin hearing PNP's challenge to NIDS tomorrow

Sunday, October 21, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Opposition People's National Party (PNP) says the Supreme Court will start hearing arguments in its challenge to the National Identification and Registration Act (NIDS Bill), tomorrow.

The Government passed the much-debated NIDS Bill on November 21 last year, approximately one hour after the Opposition walked out in protest against its refusal to withdraw the Bill and send it to a joint select committee of Parliament for further review.

The PNP, in a release today, said the court action is being brought by its General Secretary, Julian Robinson, on behalf of himself, his constituents and the members of the party, as the action alleges several constitutional violations of citizens' rights.

The legal team, headed by Queen's Council Michael Hylton, includes Senator Donna Scott Mottley, Michael Vaccianna and Jennifer Housen. The team is instructed by the firm of Paulwell Frazer Binns.

The Opposition contends that various sections of the Act are unconstitutional, and operate as violations to the rights of citizens of Jamaica.

"The Opposition has been consistent in its support for a national identification system which respects the rights of all law-abiding citizens but is deeply concerned with the haste of the passage of the Act which has left several of its provisions wholly inadequate and unlawful.

“The Opposition feels compelled to pursue the case, and points not only to the necessity to safeguard the constitutional rights (which the Act clearly infringes), but also the government's failure to discharge its burden in proving that abrogating these fundamental rights of Jamaican citizens, is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society,” Robinson said in the release.

Meanwhile, Scott-Mottley, argued that there is a lot of anxiety surrounding NIDS.

“It carries very strong penalties for those who do not register, and the poor may well find themselves serving prison sentences for their inability to pay the hundreds of thousands in fines that will be levied if they do not register.

“What is clear from the Act, is that a Jamaican, or any person who has legally made Jamaica their home, could well find him or herself at great disadvantage under the Act, compared to someone who is not a citizen of Jamaica, or have ever even lived in Jamaica. On these bases alone, it is critical that this matter is ventilated in our highest court,” Scott-Mottley claimed.

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