Letters to the Editor

No national consultation, no NIDS!

Friday, November 29, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Many Jamaicans were concerned with both the hasty process and corruptible content of the national identification system (NIDS) legislation of 2017. Recent announcements by Prime Minister Andrew Holness that stakeholders are reviewing the new NIDS proposal which will shortly arrive in Parliament likely in April 2020.

The Government claims they are ensuring that they meet the standards set by the Supreme Court. Reeling from the trauma of having such a horrible law rushed through Parliament, and the Government's abject failure at the hands of the Supreme Court — which highlighted just how horrible the law was — it is logical that the people are even more apprehensive now than previously.

It is clear that the people of Jamaica want more consultation than took place last time. Neither Government promises nor private stakeholder review was able to safeguard the human rights of Jamaicans in 2017, and there is no reason to believe it will now. We do not want to be told what is best for us and to be fast fed modernisation. We want to be treated like the intelligent human beings we are and engaged in a meaningful national discussion. Had a joint select committee been engaged when we called for it in 2017, the process would have been long completed by now.

Two years ago, over 40,000 Jamaicans signed a petition calling for the issue to go to a joint select committee. That was ignored then, and is being ignored now.

Why is there such an insistence on a rush? Are there no lessons to be learnt from past failures?

Former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller underestimated the power of the people in 2016 when she failed to ascend the stairwell of democratic discussion prior to the last election. But if the current prime minister can't learn from his own mistakes, how will he learn from the mistakes of others? And what about the mistakes that other countries made with their versions of national identification systems?

At the end of the day, if the people are not consulted properly, there will be no NIDS. He might as well start giving the $9 billion of unjustified debt back to the Inter-American Development Bank from now. Are transparency and national consultation really that hard?

If NIDS will make such a huge difference in our lives, as Holness says, shouldn't we have the right to analyse, draw conclusions, and give suggestions?

Dr Daniel Thomas

President

Love March Movement

ColourBlind Campaign

danielthomaschristian@yahoo.com


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