Opposition's NIDS court challenge starts today
Beginning today, the Supreme Court will start to hear arguments in the Opposition People's National Party's (PNP) challenge to the National Identification and Registration Act.
The legislation was passed by Parliament in the face of a walkout by the Opposition when the administration failed to refer the bill to a joint select committee for further deliberations.
The action is being brought by the PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson on behalf of himself, his constituents in St Andrew South East, and the members of the PNP.
Robinson claims that there are several constitutional violations of citizens' rights in the act. The legal team, headed by Michael Hylton, QC, also includes 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 the citizens of Jamaica.
"The Opposition has been consistent in its support for a National Identification System (NIDS), 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," Robinson said.
"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 added.
Attorney Scott-Mottley, who is also an opposition senator, stated: " ... 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."