NIDS committee report ready for Parliament

Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck says the report from the joint select committee (JSC) reviewing the National Identification and Registration (NIDS) Act, 2020 could be tabled in the House of Representatives as early as next week.

“We have completed the report, basically. The final check was done on Tuesday and Wednesday to make sure that the report is satisfactory to everybody,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“Once it is satisfactory, we will just sign off and, hopefully, we will be able to table it by next week [July 6] when the House next meets,” he added.

The minister said that he had been hoping to complete the review to table the report by June 29. However, he admitted that he plans to not only produce a new Bill, with the changes already agreed on by the committee, but also with additional information for the Members of Parliament (MPs) who will have to debate and, eventually, approve it in Parliament.

“We did some additional changes out of an abundance of caution. We put it back a week so that everybody is satisfied that we have completed the cross-checks and the necessary changes,” he stated.

Among the major changes was a decision by the JSC to have the eight members of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) forming the oversight National Databases Inspectorate (NDI) for the proposed national identification system.

The NDI will be a body corporate which will, among other things, monitor compliance with the Act, as well as the performance of the proposed National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).

It will conduct periodic inspections of its operations and give the board directions and advice “as may be appropriate to ensure identity information collected by the authority and stored in the national identification database is subject to the highest practicable levels of security and confidentiality”.

The current ECJ comprises three non-partisan selected members – ECJ Chairman Earl Jarrett, who is also deputy chairman and chief executive officer of Jamaica National Group; retired Court of Appeal judge, Justice Karl Harrison, who resigned from the Integrity Commission in 2019; and former Chief Justice Zaila McCalla.

There are four nominated members – attorney-at-law, Senator Thomas Tavares-Finson, who is also president of the Senate, and Dr Aundre Franklin, both from the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP); former Senator Wensworth Skeffery; and former MP and current General Secretary of the People's National Party (PNP) Dr Dayton Campbell.

The eighth member of the team is Director of Elections Glasspole Brown, who will be in charge of the day-to-day activities of the inspectorate, if the NIRA, which is being reviewed by the JSC, is approved and implemented by Parliament.

The JSC is a bipartisan committee comprising members from both sides of the Parliament and from both the House of Representatives and the Senate.

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobsever.com

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