Jamaica Gleaner / While they were not the placard-bearing, rowdy, behaving bunch, the scores of persons who lined the precincts of Gordon House on Friday in disapproval of the proposed National Identification System (NIDS) did not mince their words.
The consensus among the group of religious leaders, human rights advocates, tertiary students, and civilians that gathered is that the mandatory system is a breach of privacy, a basic human right.
Pastor of the Portmore Holiness Christian Church Bishop Alvin Bailey said that the Government was not sending a positive message by choosing to proceed with the bill without engaging major stakeholders and the citizenry.
“Any system that has to do with accountability is one that the Church and the Jamaican people would, in fact, support. But anything that breathes suspicion would be a cause for concern, and there are to be questions, locally, especially as persons are asking questions internationally. Let those persons who are hell-bent on pursuing it without due process take time to convince us that there’s nothing to be suspicious about,” Bailey, who is also the president of the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance, told The Gleaner .
While stating that the country could benefit through social development and health services, President of the Jamaica House of Prayer Pastor Harry Walcott raised the issue of security for the intricate personal information that is required for enrolment.
“It would seem to me that the required information is invasive and is going to impact on our privacy. Also, when we have all of this information on people in one place, we have to be very careful. Some of the most “secured” means of storage in the world have been hacked and critical information leaked into the hands of persons using it for corrupt means. Some of the developed countries such as England and Australia have rejected this system, and so the question we should be asking is, why?” Walcott stated.
‘It’s going to re-enslave us!’ A civilian who goes by the name Shekhemt, was explicit in stating that National Identification System (NIDS) being debated in the nation’s Parliament “is going to re-enslave us a people”.
“It’s a situation where the Government is being paid $68 million by the United States to carry out this atrocity against its own people. The Jamaican Government cannot sell its people on the auction block. It should not be entertained at all. It needs to be totally discredited. What we need to do is look at the systems we have in place right now and empower them in such a way that it doesn’t invade the privacy of Jamaicans and allow them the freedom that God and rational human beings intended for all of us,” explained Shekhemt.
Jamaicans for Justice spokesperson Susan Goffe reasoned that while her organisation was not opposed to a national identification system, it was not content with the nature of the bill before the Parliament.
“We have felt from the beginning that a bill of this nature should have gone to a joint select committee to have allowed for a full debate on all the issues that arise from it. We believe that in a democracy, we really ought to have had far more opportunity for input on this particular bill,” said Goffe.