Office To Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

BOTSWANA: Tier 2 Watch List

Botswana is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. There has been no comprehensive international or domestic study of trafficking trends within the country. Residents of Botswana most susceptible to trafficking are unemployed women, those living in rural poverty, agricultural workers, and children. Some parents in poor rural communities might send their children to work for wealthier families as domestic servants in cities or in agriculture and cattle farming in remote areas. Young Batswana serving as domestic workers for extended family may be denied access to education and basic necessities or subjected to confinement or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse—conditions indicative of forced labor. Batswana girls and women are exploited in prostitution within the country, including in bars and along major highways by truck drivers. Experts in Botswana believe a significant minority of persons in prostitution are children. Some women are subjected to trafficking internally or transported from neighboring countries and subjected to sexual exploitation. One previous NGO report indicated members of the Botswana civil service, including police officers, soldiers, and teachers, were among the clients of children in prostitution. NGOs report labor conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west might rise to the level of forced labor for both adults and children of the San ethnic minority group, and labor inspectors investigated rural farms for child labor in 2014. While labor inspections on rural farms found no instances of children working in 2014, the inspections were not comprehensive. Undocumented migrant children might be vulnerable to trafficking in Botswana.

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. During the reporting period, the government enacted the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act, which came into effect on January 1 and included specific penalties for trafficking and created an inter-ministerial committee to serve as a national coordinating body. Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous year; therefore, Botswana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List. The government investigated potential incidents of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of adults and children under existing laws. However, the government has not yet criminally prosecuted or convicted a trafficking offender under the new law. During the reporting period the government continued to conflate transnational movement with trafficking, thereby undermining its capacity to vigorously investigate potential trafficking cases and implement the new anti-trafficking law. The government also conducted one anti-trafficking awareness campaign and continued its training of law enforcement officials.


Increase efforts to investigate and criminally prosecute suspected traffickers using the new law for both internal and transnational trafficking cases, including those involving any allegedly complicit officials; develop and implement a robust system to proactively identify trafficking victims and refer them to social services; train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials on these identification procedures to screen vulnerable populations, including women in prostitution and undocumented migrants, for potential trafficking victimization; encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers; develop guidelines for specific protective services for trafficking victims, to be provided either directly or in partnership with NGOs; launch a national human trafficking awareness campaign; institute a unified system for documenting and collecting data on anti-trafficking law enforcement and protection efforts; and provide anti-trafficking training or guidance to diplomatic personnel to prevent their engagement or facilitation of trafficking crimes.


The government increased its capacity to make anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. It enacted the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act, which prohibits all forms of trafficking, although the law’s definition of “trafficking” is overly broad and encompasses crimes such as rape, pornography, and child labor. The penalties prescribed for sex and labor trafficking under the new law include up to 30 years’ imprisonment and a fine of 1 million pula ($111,000), which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape, except in cases that include only a fine. 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 fails to define child trafficking, potentially limiting its utility. The 1998 penal code prohibits most forms of trafficking in Sections 150-158 (forced prostitution), Section 256 (kidnapping for slavery), and Sections 260-262 (slavery and forced labor). 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.

The government continued to report on law enforcement efforts to address potential trafficking crimes during the year, including its investigation of some trafficking-related offenses under existing provisions in the 1998 penal code. However, it maintained its focus on transnational movement, often conflating illegal migration and human trafficking crimes. The government did not make use of the anti-trafficking law, which came into effect on January 1, or the existing penal code to prosecute trafficking offenses during the reporting year. The government did not initiate any investigations or prosecutions of trafficking cases involving Batswana victims subjected to trafficking internally, including children exploited in prostitution and domestic servitude. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking or trafficking-related offenses. In 2014, the government facilitated four workshops for law enforcement, through which roughly 300 police were trained on both labor and sex trafficking. Judicial authorities lectured at the Botswana Police College to sensitize incoming recruits on trafficking issues. While the government developed a national action plan to train officials on the new anti-trafficking law, it failed to implement this plan in 2014, perpetuating a general lack of understanding of trafficking among officials.


The government sustained limited efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government identified 26 Zimbabwean children as potential trafficking victims after they were initially detained for immigration violations. Law enforcement officials, in partnership with an international organization, coordinated with the Department of Social Services to refer the 26 children to a NGO-run shelter until their repatriation to Zimbabwe. The 2014 anti-trafficking act outlined victim referral measures, but the government has not yet operationalized such procedures or those for victim identification. The 2014 anti-trafficking law mandates the government budget an unspecified amount of funding for victim shelter and transportation assistance; however, it was unclear if it allocated funding for these purposes during the reporting year. The new law permits the government to grant foreign national victims extended stay in Botswana for an undetermined period; however, the government did not utilize this provision during the reporting period. The anti-trafficking law does not include provisions to protect trafficking victims from punishment for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being subjected to trafficking; the lack of formal identification procedures for trafficking victims likely resulted in victims remaining unidentified in the law enforcement system. The government remained without measures designed to encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers.


The government made some efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. The government sponsored a radio campaign to familiarize the general public with the issue of trafficking, coupled with information on cross-border movement and illegal migration. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the reporting year. It did not provide anti-trafficking training or guidance for its diplomatic personnel in 2014.