Sat | Jun 3, 2023

NIDS inspectorate expected by financial year-end

ECJ repositions for expanded roles

Published:Thursday | May 25, 2023 | 6:33 PM

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) says it is far advanced with preparations for the National Identification and Registration Inspectorate (NIRI).

The commission is aiming to have the NIRI operational by the end of the current financial year.

In 2022, the ECJ members were appointed commissioners of the inspectorate to give independent oversight of the operations of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).

“The commission's proven track record in the management of personal data, the large-scale production and security of voter ID cards and the internationally recognised confidence in the nation's electoral system were undoubtedly key factors in the appointment of the ECJ as the inspectorate,” the entity said in a press release today.

With the appointment, the commission is charged with the mandate to, inter alia:

  • Monitor compliance with the National Identification and Registration Act;
  • Monitor the performance of the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA);
  • Conduct periodic inspection of NIRA;
  • Give NIRA direction and advice on the collection, processing and storage of identity information; and
  • Investigate issues and complaints.

In its regulatory role, NIRI is also enabled to undertake audits, summon the NIRA as required and take enforcement actions.

With the impending enactment of Data Protection legislation, the NIRI is also preparing to monitor the policies, procedures and practices for ensuring the privacy and confidentiality of an individual's identity under the National Identification system.

“The addition of the NIRI to the ECJ Commissioners' portfolio of responsibilities is a welcome expansion of the ECJ's current roles and functions. Having assumed this new commission, the ECJ members have promptly taken steps to reposition the organisation to ensure the smooth integration of the NIRI with existing operations,” the agency noted.

“Accordingly, the commission has developed a strategic approach for consultation and development of the operational framework for successful implementation of NIRI, including an appropriate structure, suitable personnel and relevant policies and procedures.

“Incorporated into the formal establishment of NIRI is the engagement of key stakeholders, implementation of key technology and building public awareness of the role of the NIRI and rights of citizens under the National Identification and Registration Act. These functions are neither theoretical nor allegorical; they require the direct practical attention of the members of the ECJ.”

Additionally, “the ECJ commissioners are aware that the role and functions formerly held by the Political Ombudsman may soon be subsumed under the ECJ. Mainly, the commissioners will be tasked with investigating actions by political parties, their supporters or members, deemed to have breached the Political Code of Conduct. The commissioners do not underestimate this role and expect it to be a significant addition to their functions.

“Nonetheless, the ECJ is not daunted by the expanded responsibilities, but remains committed to using its expertise and dynamism to provide leadership in the roles it has been given.”

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