Botswana is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Residents of Botswana most susceptible to trafficking are unemployed men and women, those living in rural poverty, agricultural workers, and children. Some parents in poor rural communities send their children to work for wealthier families as domestic servants in cities or as herders at remote cattle posts. Young Batswana serving as domestic workers for extended family or friends of family in some cases may be denied access to education and basic necessities or subjected to confinement or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse—all conditions indicative of forced labor. Batswana girls are exploited in prostitution within the country, including in bars and by truck drivers along major highways. The ILO and a child welfare organization in Botswana believe that a significant minority of persons in prostitution are children. NGO reports during the year cited the rescue of 60 girls and boys from prostitution. Undocumented Asian immigrants may be vulnerable to forced labor due to the threat of deportation; in the previous reporting period, one Indian national was held in forced labor through nonpayment of wages and withholding of his passport by traffickers of the same nationality. NGOs report forced labor of both adults and children of the San ethnic minority group on private farms and cattle posts.
The Government of Botswana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. The government completed drafting anti-trafficking legislation, which is currently pending approval by the Cabinet. The Ministry of Defense, Justice, and Security (MDJS) coordinated two workshops to review the draft legislation, with foreign government and civil society input and in partnership with UNODC through a donor-funded program. The government nonetheless failed to criminally prosecute or convict trafficking offenders during the year. The government also failed to identify or assist trafficking victims during the year. However, as part of an ILO project in 2011, a government-funded NGO identified 58 victims of commercial sexual exploitation. Another NGO separately identified an additional two victims of commercial sexual exploitation. When victims were brought for assistance by NGOs, the government offered counseling and modest reintegration services. However, protection services were not provided to the large majority of children discovered in prostitution, as they did not qualify as orphans or destitute, which is legally required for such assistance; such services were not provided to any trafficking victims during the current reporting period. For the second consecutive year, the government failed to finalize formal identification and referral procedures and did not coordinate trafficking awareness campaigns. The government failed to proactively investigate official complicity in trafficking and trafficking-related crimes. A report released during the year indicated that police officers, soldiers, and teachers were found among the clients of children in prostitution during the previous reporting period.
Recommendations for Botswana: Enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; increase efforts to investigate and criminally prosecute suspected trafficking offenders under existing laws in both transnational and internal trafficking cases; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims proactively and train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials to use this system to identify victims among vulnerable populations; develop guidelines for government-provided services to include child victims of trafficking; launch a national human trafficking awareness campaign; and institute a unified system for documenting and collecting data on human trafficking cases.
The Government of Botswana demonstrated minimal progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts despite its development of comprehensive legislation over the last year. It failed, however, to demonstrate efforts to vigorously investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses under existing law. Botswana does not have a law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons, though provisions in the Penal Code of 1998, such as those in sections 150-158 (forced prostitution), section 256 (kidnapping for slavery), and sections 260-262 (slavery and forced labor), prohibit most forms of trafficking. The sufficiently stringent penalties prescribed for offenses under these sections range from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment, and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Sections 57 and 114 of the 2009 Children’s Act prohibit child prostitution and child trafficking, respectively; section 57 prescribes penalties of two to five years’ imprisonment for facilitation or coercion of children into prostitution, while section 114 prescribes penalties of five to 15 years’ imprisonment for child trafficking. The Children’s Act, however, fails to define child trafficking, potentially limiting its utility. The Attorney General completed drafting anti-trafficking legislation in October 2012 and submitted it to the Cabinet for review in early March 2013; the draft will then be sent to Parliament for debate and passage. In partnership with UNODC, the MDJS held two sessions to review the draft legislation and solicit feedback from government stakeholders in October 2012 and from civil society in February 2013, through which the legislation was strengthened and awareness of trafficking increased among government and NGO stakeholders.
Unlike the previous reporting period, the government did not formally report comprehensive data on potential trafficking crimes. The Botswana Police Service reported its investigation of two suspected trafficking cases. A trafficking prosecution initiated in 2010 remained ongoing. In 2012, with support from the government, IOM trained 16 immigration and law enforcement officers during a trainer-to-trainer program that took place in a government-owned facility; these officials independently trained an additional 121 officials using this curriculum, an increase from 81 police officers trained in 2011. Police officers, soldiers, and teachers—members of the Botswana Civil Service—were reported by a government-funded NGO to be among the clients of children in commercial sex; the government did not investigate or prosecute, as appropriate, government employees for such complicity in trafficking crimes.
The government decreased its efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. The government failed to identify or provide assistance to trafficking victims during the reporting period. Nonetheless, as part of an ILO project, a government-funded NGO identified 58 victims of child prostitution during the previous reporting period. Although the government supported reintegration services in 2011 as part of this project through the return of these children to their families, continuation of schooling for some children, and land to start an income-generating program for others, it failed to provide them immediate medical care, counseling, or shelter or provide any such assistance to victims in the current reporting year. In addition, the government did not make systematic efforts or develop formal procedures to identify trafficking victims and refer them to care. The government began to develop a referral process for victims of gender-based violence and vulnerable groups. Botswana has no social services specifically assisting victims of human trafficking. The government funded an NGO-operated shelter, which provided general services to children. One child victim of domestic servitude, identified in 2010, remained within the care of this shelter for a third year and government social workers continued to oversee her case. During the year, this NGO reported its identification of 58 child trafficking victims, all removed from prostitution; these victims constitute a portion of the 328 children identified as part of an ILO project, which served to identify children at risk of entering or already involved in agricultural labor or child prostitution. Department of Social Services staff only provided services to one of the 58 children removed from prostitution, as the children were not orphaned or destitute and therefore were judged not to qualify for existing social services programming. This child was assisted through enrollment in the needy students program, which provided toiletries, school uniforms, and exemption from paying school fees.
Botswana does not have laws, regulations, or policies that protect trafficking victims from punishment for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked or that allow foreign victims relief from deportation. For example, in implementing prostitution laws, police exclusively arrest persons soliciting prostitution but do not screen this vulnerable population for victimization, thereby likely penalizing trafficking victims during the year. Additionally, the government deported undocumented foreign migrants within 24 hours of arrest and, due to limited time and resources, provided only informal screening for trafficking victimization for the 300 undocumented foreign migrants deported each day; thus, illegal immigrants who may have been subjected to conditions of trafficking are likely deported before being referred to social service officials. This informal screening has never resulted in the identification of a trafficking victim.
The government continued minimal efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In partnership with UNODC, the government began to develop a national action plan. Despite official recognition of the need to increase the understanding of trafficking among Batswana, the government did not launch any trafficking-specific prevention campaigns for the second consecutive year, though it made some efforts to spread awareness of hazardous and exploitative child labor. In partnership with the ILO, the government continued its compilation of a list of hazardous forms of work and is still working to complete the list. Child labor committees, which include social workers, school teachers, labor inspection officers, and community leaders such as local chiefs and priests, assisted in identifying and rehabilitating child labor and sexual exploitation victims as part of the ILO project during the previous reporting period. In November 2012, the Department of Labor and Social Security held an anti-trafficking awareness-raising event in rural villages in Southern District. The Minister of Labor raised awareness of exploitative child labor through a weekly nationwide program on Radio Botswana, in particular by advocating children remain in school. The government investigated five suspects for allegedly purchasing sex from children in prostitution; one case was pending prosecution at the end of the reporting period. With that exception, the government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.