Ja national ID coming

KINGSTON, Jamaica – A national registration system first proposed by the then Electoral Advisory Committee in 1994, is one of several initiatives announced by Prime Minister Bruce Golding to cramp the worrying crime rate in Jamaica.

Last year 1,574 Jamaicans were murdered.

Mr. Golding’s announcement has received support from Director of Elections Danville Walker who said that the country should have established such a system years ago.

Public Defender Earl Witter said the proposal was well intentioned. However, he said “there are various perils that may result”.

“The proposal, therefore, requires very weighty considerations,” he said.

Mr. Witter said he would examine the proposal in detail and consider the implications before responding further.

Speaking yesterday at a post-Cabinet retreat press conference at Jamaica House, Mr. Golding said the national identification system would be introduced in the 2008/2009 fiscal year.

He said this would require every Jamaican who is resident in the country to be registered and be assigned a unique number from the date of birth.

Mr. Golding told journalists that this would be done to “ensure that this country becomes more manageable, more governable and to ensure that the security of the country can be better ensured”.

Commenting on the plan, the director of elections said that the idea of a national registration system would have positive benefits for the country.

He argued that such a system would enhance the security forces’ crime-fighting capabilities.

Mr. Walker argued that countries like South Africa first established a national registration system, and uses data from this system for its electoral list.

The Prime Minister also said that motorists would soon be required to have their driver’s licences in their possession at all times.

He said the law would be amended to change the provision which allows a motorist to produce his driver’s licence within five days.

On another matter, Mr. Golding said that the Commissioner of Police would be granted greater authority, but at the same time, be held more accountable for the exercise of his power.

One critical component of the new crime-fighting effort, said Golding, was the containment of the inflow of illegal weapons into the country.

Depressed communities will also be targeted for increased social intervention.

“It is not enough for the police to go in and search for criminals, the Solid Waste Management must go in there in search of garbage, the Water Commission must go in there in search of broken mains and broken sewer pipes,” Golding said.

He added: “The Heart/NTA must go in there in search of young people who have no skill, who can be provided with a skill.”