Justice David Batema of the Fort Portal High Court has spoken out against the wanton arrests of civil debtors ordered by the courts and carried out on behalf of moneylenders by bailiffs or, at worst, the police.
Over the past few years, the business of moneylending has blossomed, with many unsuspecting Ugandans falling victim to the loan sharks that at times cause their arrest or confiscate the debtors’ properties.
According to Justice Batema, the law followed to imprison the civil debtors is at times abused, with the some enforcers neglecting the provision that presupposes imprisonment of civil debtors as a ‘last resort’ action.
“… the judiciary is facing a problem, especially in the lower courts, that allow moneylenders and banks to arrest civil debtors as a first resort…’, the learned Judge observed.
In effect our society has created a group of rich men and powerful institutions like banks which have preyed on the hapless borrowers’ lack of knowledge about the procedures of enforcing the payment of debts.
What is surprising is that even our Members of Parliament, some of who have persistently dodged parliamentary sessions for fear of being arrested over civil debts, have never had time to revisit the law on moneylending and how it is being applied against the civil debtors like them.
For if they had, then the country would have a more elaborate law to deal with civil debtors, with foreclosure being an imperative part of the process of recovering civil debts.
Parliament should take the cue!