The absence of a national identification – which would cover all citizens – is among the ills that the National Identification System (NIDS) is seeking to cure. According to the Government’s website for NIDS (https://www.nidsfacts.com/):
“A secure national identification system for Jamaica has the potential to positively transform the efficiency and transparency of interactions between the state and the citizens and residents with significant additional positive effects for private businesses. The National Identification System (NIDS), when implemented, will provide a safe, convenient and reliable means for persons to prove their identity while aiding in the furtherance of the digitalisation of Government, which is expected to reduce bureaucracy and encourage efficiency and accountability in the public sector. Additionally, when government and private sector transactions are based on a secure National Identification Number (NIN), supported by a National Identification Card (NIC); crimes such as identity theft, fraud, trafficking in persons and other crimes related to identity and property will be significantly reduced.”
While discussions around a National Registration System have been happening from as far back as the 1970’s, progress towards its implementation has accelerated in the past five (5) years. The 2017 version of the Bill, was passed in controversial circumstances, and without debate in the lower house of Parliament. That Act was later the subject of a constitutional challenge, brought by opposition MP Julian Robinson. The court found that there was a violation of the Constitutional rights to privacy and that the justification given by the Government did not meet the Constitutional standards – leading them to declare the law null and void.
This 2020 version of the bill benefitted from the Judges’ opinions in the constitutional challenge, and the Government opted – at the point of tabling – to establish a Joint Select Committee to consider the bill.
First Tabled: 12/15/2020
St. Andrew West Central (JLP)
The Bill was withdrawn, with the National Identification and Registration Act 2021 being tabled. This new version of the bill reflects the amendments that would have arisen from the deliberations of – and the presentations to – the Joint Select Committee.
The Joint Select Committee’s deliberations led to amendments to the proposed Bill, and the development of the National Identification Registration Act 2021 (the current version of the law). The Evolution of NIDS (Summarised)
The Joint Select Committee – comprising nine (9) members of the Lower House and six (6) members of the Senate – with the support of the implementing team from the OPM met to discuss the provisions of the Bill, and accepted submissions from a number of individuals and organisations.
The Office of the Prime Minister has produced a clause-by-clause breakdown of the legislation – OPM Clause-by-Clause explanation of NIDS 2020 Act.
JAMP has sought to add value by providing a comparison between key provisions of the old and new versions of the bill – The Evolution of NIDS (Summarised)