Civil imprisonment abused – Boko

Boko speaking at BNF annual conference 
PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO
Boko speaking at BNF annual conference PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

SHOSHONG: The Botswana National Front (BNF) leader Duma Boko has revealed that civil imprisonment continues to be abused to punish impecunious individuals and the courts have been enlisted to participate in these egregious violations of law.

Speaking during the BNF annual conference over the holidays, Boko said the heavy and crushing household debt in Botswana, which stands at around P60 billion, has decimated families and shattered whole communities. He said as a result of the disturbing phenomenon, the egregious use of civil imprisonment has emerged in which the courts and the justice system have been complicit. “The weapon of civil imprisonment for debt has become entrenched and the courts have allowed themselves to be willing participants in the violation of people’s human rights by recklessly issuing warrants for imprisonment of indigent and impecunious individuals for the simple reason that the lashings of poverty have rendered them unable to service the debts they have been forced into,” he pointed out. Boko, who is also a human rights lawyer, was addressing BNF members.

He said he wanted to make it clear to all citizens of this country and the courts themselves that the law does not sanction the imprisonment of any person on the basis that such a person has no means and is thus, unable to pay a debt. He said civil imprisonment cannot and should not be used in relation to such a person. “Civil imprisonment is only available against a debtor who is able to pay but is being truant. Any deployment of civil imprisonment outside these strictures and circumstances is an abuse and cognisably unlawful. The courts and judicial officers must exercise heightened vigilance and desist from being enlisted in the violation of the law and the rights of citizens. Our people are brutalised and abused enough by this regime,” he highlighted. Boko, who also doubles as Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) president, added that the courts must step up and uphold the law.

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