Sun | Oct 21, 2018

Don't play politics with national ID law

Published:Monday | November 13, 2017 | 12:00 AM


A far-reaching and fundamental issue like the National Identification Systems (NIDS) should not be rushed and be politicised. Therefore, we are very concerned when we see the likes of churches led by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society leader Dr Wayne West; and human-rights activists led by Jamaicans For Justice Susan Goffe coming together on an issue.

It is important to note that these groups hardly see eye to eye.

One of the fundamental rights of a country is the right to privacy once it is not interfering with national security and healthy lifestyles. This matter should not be a Jamaica Labour Party versus People's National Party matter; church versus 'worldian' matter; human rights versus national security matter; or a conservative versus liberal matter. This is a morality and privacy matter.

The intention of this bill is not bad, but its principle is. We don't have any problems with criminals and temporary residents being entered into a database like this for national security reasons.

The Government would be naÔve to think that there is trust between the public and the security forces. It would also be naÔve to think there is trust between the public and politicians.

Every Jamaican citizen should be concerned about the power we are giving our government in the name of 'national security' information and for many other reasons. Governments must stop seeking the easy way out of a problem. Even the great United States of America has the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to safeguard against corrupt and illegal practices of the intelligence community with regard to wire-tapping among foreign citizens and its natives. Do we have such safeguards in this bill?

If the Jamaica Labour Party Government wants us to buy into this bill, form a court that will safeguard against politics and corruption. Also, take the power from the minister and put it in the hands of Parliament. The minister's and the Government's job is only to suggest members of such a court, but Parliament should reject or accept.

Teddylee Gray