The action taken by the Opposition is seeking an order that the sections are null and void and should be struck down.
This comes against the background of the Bill being rushed through both Houses of Parliament despite the pleas for amendments from the Parliamentary Opposition and several civil society groups, including the Bar Association of Jamaica, that the Bill be sent to a Joint Select Committee of both Houses of Parliament for more deliberation on aspects of the proposed Act.
“The People’s National Party (PNP) 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,” PNP President Dr. Peter Phillips said.
The Fixed Date Claim Form filed in court says Sections 6(1), 20, 23, 27(1), 30, 36(4), 39, 41 (1), 43(1) and 60 as well as the third and sixth schedules all breach Section 13 of the Jamaican Constitution. The sixth schedule 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.
As a result, the Opposition said, it was seeking an order that the sections are null and void and are of no effect and should be struck down. It also said it was seeking other remedies necessary to give legal effect to the declarations as well as costs.
The claimant in the suit is Member of Parliament for South East St. Andrew and General Secretary of the People’s National Party, Julian Robinson.
The Parliamentary Opposition is being represented by former Solicitor General, Michael Hylton, Q.C., and Attorneys Michael Vaccianna, Donna Scott-Mottley, Jennifer Housen and Sophia Frazer Binns.
In the meantime, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has labelled the opposition as obstructionist for what it says is the party's "continued attempts to undermine the National Identification System and affirms that history won't absolved them for blocking the progress of the Jamaican people."
In a press release, the JLP's General Secretary Dr Horace Chang says he is not surprised but disappointed that the Opposition will now be using the courts in an attempt to undermine a law that they themselves contributed to drafting.
”We, as a country, have been talking about this for almost 40 years. The PNP even tabled a bill in 2002 that is very similar to the one just passed. Many of the current provisions that they now seeks to undermine came out of discussions with them.
”We are left with only one conclusion, it seems that the tea issue the opposition has is that this government is finally implementing the system where they have failed," Chang explained.
Dr Chang maintained that NIDS is one of the most fundamental developments in the history of Jamaica.
”There are numerous benefits for the people, especially the working class, including being able to better do business and access government services. NIDS will ensure hay Jamaicans can participate effectively and securely in the digits space. This is how you create a Jamaica that works for all,” he assured.
The JLP General Secretary added that the people of Jamaica should be confident that the government will defend the gains fought for in their interest.
”Well-thinking Jamaicans have recognised the motives of the opposition and will not forget their attack on the development of the country. The elected government will fulfil its mandate given to it by the people;” he stated.
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