Wednesday 16 October, 2019

NIDS ruling on Friday, to be streamed live

The long-awaited ruling on the constitutionality of some aspects of the controversial National Identification and Registration (NIDS) Act will be handed down in the Full Court on Friday, April 12, and will be streamed live.

This was announced on Wednesday by the Court Management Services (CMS) in a press release. According to the CMS, the Constitutional Court will deliver its verdict in the case brought by the General Secretary of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP), Julian Robinson. Attorney General Marlene Malahoo-Forte is the defendant in the matter.

“The Judiciary of Jamaica is cognizant of the high level of interest in the matter by Jamaicans domiciled locally and in the diaspora. In light of the immense public interest in the case and the limitations in the seating capacity of the courtroom, the audio of the proceedings will be streamed live…” the CMS said in its release.

Persons wanting to hear the live verdict may connect to the following websites: www.supremecourt.gov.jm or www.cms.gov.jm and www.parishcourt.gov.jm.

Robinson brought the case against the Government on behalf of himself, his constituents and the PNP.  He alleged that the NIDS Act abrogates, abridges and infringes particular rights outlined in the Constitution of Jamaica.

The Full Court panel comprising Chief Justice Bryan Sykes, Justice David Batts and Justice Lisa Palmer Hamilton heard submissions from the parties from October 22 to 24, 2018.

The attorney general was forced on the backfoot over the three days of hearings as she struggled to make her case before the panel of judges that particular aspects of the NIDS were not unconstitutional.

The controversial law will make it mandatory for all Jamaicans to register, be fingerprinted and even state their blood type or face the risk of a huge fine or custodial sentence if they fail to do so.

The NIDS will also replace several pieces of identification now used by Jamaicans. Persons not registered under the NIDS will be unable to access certain government services.

The lead attorney for the PNP, Queens Counsel Michael Hylton told the Constitutional Court that the NIDS breached eight of the 25 fundamental rights which are contained in the Charter of Rights, including the right to privacy.

For his part, the chief justice stated that, if a person's right to refuse is denied, the Government runs the risk of instituting a totalitarian regime under the NIDS.

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