Civil Society Coalition launches NIDS focus platform

Jodi-Ann Quarrie, JFJ’s new Policy and Advocacy Manager,

The NIDS Focus Coalition, a coalition of civil society organisations, launched its National Identification System (NIDS) platform on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

The platform, nidsfocus.com, is aimed at protecting human rights, supporting inclusion, participation and transparency by providing Jamaicans with a place to track and collect all information related to NIDS in an easy, simple and effective way.

The NIDS Focus Coalition comprises 14 organisations spearheaded by Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) and The SlashRoots Foundation (SRFDN). 

Jodi-Ann Quarrie, JFJ’s new Policy and Advocacy Manager, shared that the coalition is not opposed to the concept of a national identification system in Jamaica. However, the system being established must be people-centred, truly inclusive, and rooted in a rights-respecting manner to benefit all Jamaicans.

NIDS for US, by Us

She explained, “we need to ensure we are holding the government accountable; this platform will allow us to track the development of the NIDS Bill and provide people with information in real-time. This website is facilitating a space for the public to be educated on the issues and to have candid discourse around the Bill.” 

The platform forms a part of a broader JFJ-led initiative entitled ‘NIDS for US, by Us.’

The project is aimed at critically examining the government roll-out of the NIDS Bill by facilitating robust advocacy and maintaining channels for public education and participation in the decision-making process. 

NIDSFOCUS.COM will provide an array of features including: 

  1. ‘Clause by Clause Translation’ of the NIDS Bill. The Bill will be rewritten using everyday language in an effort to increase understanding and knowledge around its implications. 
  2. Summarised notes of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) meetings. The JSC meetings are over ninety minutes long and are often filled with legal jargon. The platform will consist of concise versions of all these meetings with an explanation of all the issues. 
  3. Submission made to the JSC by the NIDS Focus coalition. In February 2021, a 13-point submission was made to JSC outlining a series of concerns and proposed approaches to address them. 
  4. Answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to the NIDS Bill. The platform will compile a series of FAQs and provide accurate responses. It will also allow visitors to the site to submit their questions.

In 2017, the Jamaican government passed a version of the National Identification and Registration Bill which was struck down by the courts for its unconstitutionality in 2019.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has charged his administration to move with alacrity to have the revised Bill passed by the end of 2021. The NIDS Focus coalition is, however, urging the government to slow down and demonstrate good governance by facilitating public participation and social inclusion.