Attorney General v Dow

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The plaintiff, Unity Dow, was a citizen of Botswana, married to a non-citizen, whose children had been denied citizenship under a provision of the Citizenship Act 1984 that conferred citizenship on a child born in Botswana only if "a) his father was a citizen of Botswana; or b) in the case of a person born out-of-wedlock, his mother was a citizen of Botswana." The plaintiff claimed that this provision violated guarantees of the Botswana Constitution. The High Court agreed, holding that the provision infringed

  • the right to liberty,
  • the right not to be expelled from Botswana,
  • the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment, and
  • the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of sex.

It concluded that the right to liberty had been infringed because the provision hampered a woman's free choice to marry a non-citizen and, in fact, undermined marriage; that the right not to be expelled from Botswana was infringed because, if the plaintiff's resident permit was not renewed she would be forced to leave Botswana if she desired to stay with her family; and that the right not to be subjected to degrading treatment was infringed because any law discriminating against women constitutes an offense against human dignity.

This decision was subsequently upheld by the Botswana Court of Appeal.[1]


  1. ^ Link Unity Dow v. Attorney-General (Botswana) [June 1991],