The following is an open letter from the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) to Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the government by the Jamaica in response to the recent passing of the National Identification and Registration (NIDS) Bill.
The Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) expresses profound disappointment and unease over the passage of the National Identification and Registration (NIDS) legislation in the House of Representatives on Tuesday November 21, 2017. In passing this legislation the Prime Minister and members of Government have totally ignored the plea of nearly 50,000 Jamaicans persons who have petitioned for a halt to the process.
We continue to hold the view that most Jamaicans are unaware of the intent and impact of this legislation, which will have far-reaching consequences for how Jamaican society functions. Most Jamaicans are unaware that this legislation which will affect their existing freedoms as citizens of this nation has been imposed on them with an $8 billion debt which they will have to repay.
It is reasonable to expect a democratically elected Government to engage with the electorate, prior to the passage of legislation, particularly one of this magnitude which has serious and long-term social and financial implications. It was this consideration which caused the JCHS to adopt the viewpoint that the Bill should have been sent to a Joint Select Committee and that widespread consultations and analysis, with the public, and not merely with selected stakeholders, should have been done.
The JCHS remains concerned about the mandatory nature of the legislation and the punishment which will be imposed for non-compliance. Of particular concern is the fact, that in time, persons who are not enrolled, including children, will be denied access to services provided by public bodies. This includes education and police, fire and legal aid services.
We therefore urge Jamaicans in Jamaica and in the Diaspora to raise and continue to voice their objections to this legislation and to find all legitimate ways of making their voices heard.