Court Ruling On NIDS Ultimately A Minor Setback


In a unanimous decision, Jamaica’s Supreme Court struck down the
National Identification and Registration Act (NIDS) , which has been a source of debate and much contention since it was first instituted.
In a suit brought by the People’s National Party’s  General Secretary Julian Robinson on behalf of himself, his constituents in St Andrew South East, and the members of the PNP, Robinson argued that the law was unconstitutional.

In explaining the decision of the court, Chief Justice Bryan Sykes said: “It is the court’s decision for the law to be struck down in its entirety because those aspects which did not infringe on the Constitutional rights of citizens were not enough to stand alone“. 
Justice Sykes went on: “The mandatory requirement of NIDS for persons to submit biometric information is indeed a violation of the right to privacy, which is stipulated by the Constitution“.

This issue should not be viewed as a win for any political party. Nevertheless, it is inconceivable that in light of Jamaican’s proclivity to see crucial issues through green or orange lenses, it will be viewed as a political victory by those who did not want it.
Never mind that many who do not want it can hardly articulate why they have a problem with the idea of a national identification database..
It is rather tempting to talk about the PNP’s constant populist stance which is seriously getting in the way of the nation’s advancement.
Likewise, it is just as tempting to delve into the JLP’s habit of creating legislation which tends to do more harm than good, even though the original intent of the legislation may have been righteous. (see the INDECOM Act.)

If we allow ourselves to avoid the default political fallback on these issues we can take a look at the reasons these methods are relevant today even though they may not have Constitutional cover.
The Jamaican Constitution was crafted at a time when none of the issues affecting the Island today were present, particularly on the crime front.
As such it is critical that there either be amendments to the Constitution which allows the country to keep up with the way the world is going or be left on the inconsequential garbage-heap where failed states go to die.
This writer has no problem with the decision of the court. The court is tasked with deciphering exactly what is in the constitution and how cases which come before it stand up to constitutional scrutiny.
I believe that is exactly what the learned Justice Byran Sykes and his colleagues did in arriving at this unanimous decision.
Neither do I have any quarrel with the petitioners of the court al -la Julian Robinson et al, outside of the cumulative pile of circumstantial evidence which has become the PNP’s [modus- operandi], as it relates to being obstructionist in the fight against dangerous criminals.
It follows that the Administration in office must forthwith brush this rebuke aside and proceed with a national education campaign to bring citizens up to speed on the ways a national Identification database is beneficial to and necessary for their protection.
At the same time, it must also seek to get a Constitutional amendment through the parliament where the Opposition PNP party has decidedly staked out a stance that it will be an impediment and a hindrance to any strategy aimed at dealing effectively with the nation’s crime problem.
It is also important that people yapping about their opposition to a National identification Database do understand the ramifications and consequences of not having one.

A National Identification system is a must for all Nations for all intents and purposes.
Here’s why.
If a nation does not know its citizens, it cannot give an accounting of their actions,, what crimes they have committed, if any.
As such, any accounting, vis-a-vis police records for visas and green card is useless and will not be viewed with any degree of deference. When a nation cannot be trusted to give an accurate accounting of its citizens, that country is deemed a failed state.
So now, everyone is unable to travel or engage in commerce outside the country. This is not where the world is coming from it is where the world is going. This setback is only a temporary block on the road. The PNP is an agent of opposition to progress in Jamaica and so the present administration should through the parliament pursue a constitutional amendment, if not a rewording of the present piece of legislation before the courts. Ultimately, the Parliament is constituted of the people’s representatives and that is where the power lies.
Frankly, I have called for a new constitution for years.
Now may be the time !!!!!!!!

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