By Adiga Jukius
A section of members of Parliament have called for a review of the law on civil imprisonment saying money lenders have abused it to embarrass politicians.
The call comes as more MPs continue to be sent to prisons as judgment debtors after failure to pay their debt obligations.
Of late a couple of legislators have not been in good books with their creditors as they struggle to meet their debt obligations, shortly after the release of the Bunyangabu county legislator Davis Kamukama from civil imprisonment in Luzira, two more MPs have been sent to prisons as Judgment debtors for failure to settle their loans which attract interests every night and day.
According to the spokesperson of Luzira Prison Frank Baine, prisons are now homes to 458 inmates who were committed to prisons over failure to pay their debts. Baine says the number of judgment debtors keeps on growing which is also contributing to overcrowding in prisons.
However, some legislators believe provisions for civil imprisonment have been abused by moneylenders to embarrass their debtors, especially politicians. They believe some lenders are used by opponents of some MPs in constituencies to damage their reputation. They now propose some reforms in the law.
Baine explains that most people who are committed to prisons as judgment debtors, complete the entire jail term of six months without settling their debt obligations. They are released at the end of the day, save for the few individuals who raise some money and rescue themselves from jail. Then one wonders whether arresting a debtor helps the lender to recover their money.
Civil imprisonment was meant for those who are able but willfully refuse to pay a debt or obey a decree of the court requiring such specific performance. Lawmakers have mixed opinions on this, some claim that people are sent to civil imprisonment when they are willing but unable to pay.
Meanwhile, to keep a judgment debtor in jail, the money lender has to pay an upkeep of three thousand shillings (Shs3,000) to Uganda Prisons Services per each day a debtor spends in prison. But the prison spokesman says this money is too little to take care of a prisoner and they want it revised upwards.
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