BOTSWANA: Tier 2
Botswana is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Residents of Botswana most vulnerable to trafficking are unemployed women, the rural poor, agricultural workers, and children. Some parents in poor rural communities send their children to work for wealthier families as domestic servants in cities or in agriculture and cattle farming in remote areas, increasing their vulnerability to forced labor. 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 possibly exploited in prostitution within the country, including in bars and along major highways by truck drivers. Some women may be subjected to trafficking internally or transported from neighboring countries and subjected to sexual exploitation. Officials confirmed for both adults and children of the San ethnic minority group labor conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west might rise to the level of forced labor. Undocumented migrant children might be vulnerable to trafficking in Botswana. There has been no comprehensive international or domestic study of trafficking trends within the country.
The Government of Botswana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government investigated five trafficking cases and prosecuted seven traffickers under the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act, in comparison with none reported the previous reporting period. The cases were ongoing at the end of the reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers. The government established the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, in accordance with the Anti-Trafficking Act, in January 2016; it held two meetings during the reporting period. The government identified six trafficking victims and provided them food, amenities, and basic assistance, including medical and psycho-social care. The government provided social service personnel with formal written procedures to guide them in identifying potential trafficking victims among vulnerable populations; other officials remained without formal identification and referral procedures. The government launched a nationwide public awareness campaign, which also served to educate local government officials in 16 districts. It conducted a train-the-trainers event for law enforcement and immigration officials on anti-trafficking efforts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BOTSWANA:
Amend the anti-trafficking law to ensure penalties are sufficiently stringent by restricting the ability of judges to impose fines in lieu of prison time when sentencing convicted traffickers; continue efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers using the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act for both internal and transnational trafficking cases; implement formal victim identification procedures for all stakeholders, including law enforcement and immigration officials, and train officials on the procedures; fully formalize the system to refer victims to social services; continue to encourage victims to participate in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers through formal procedures; develop guidelines for specific protective services for trafficking victims, to be provided either directly or in partnership with NGOs; amend the 2009 Children’s Act to define child trafficking including exploitation of children in prostitution without any force, coercion, or movement necessary; continue to conduct awareness campaigns, particularly in rural areas; and provide anti-trafficking training to diplomatic personnel.
The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act prohibits all forms of trafficking, although the law’s definition of trafficking also links trafficking to ancillary crimes such as rape, pornography, and child labor. The act prescribes penalties for sex and labor trafficking of up to 30 years’ imprisonment or a fine of one million pula ($111,000), which are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes. For sentences that only include a fine, penalties are not sufficiently stringent 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 does not define child trafficking; however, the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act specifically links its definition of child trafficking to the children’s act. 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 investigated five trafficking cases and prosecuted seven traffickers under the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act, in comparison with investigating an unreported number of trafficking cases and obtaining no prosecutions the previous reporting period. The prosecutions were ongoing by the end of the reporting period; the government did not convict any traffickers. There were anecdotal reports that Batswana victims may have been subjected to internal trafficking, including children exploited in prostitution or domestic servitude. While authorities conducted some targeted investigations into the issue, they did not encounter any cases nor initiate any prosecutions involving Batswana victims. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses. The Ministry of Defense, Justice, and Security (MDJS) led awareness-raising and training sessions on the 2014 act, prosecuting trafficking offenders, and identifying and assisting potential victims for local government officials in all 16 districts. In December 2015, it separately held an informational session to sensitize judicial officials at the national level across the country on trafficking and the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act. In July 2015, MDJS also held a train-the-trainers event for 40 law enforcement and immigration officials. Judicial authorities lectured at the Botswana Police College to sensitize incoming recruits on trafficking issues. Additionally, during the reporting period, the police service included in its curriculum a section on human trafficking to educate recruits on the anti-trafficking law, victim identification, and investigation of human trafficking cases.
The government increased efforts to protect trafficking victims. The government identified six victims during the reporting period. Law enforcement officials, in partnership with an international organization, coordinated with the Department of Social Services to refer the victims to NGO-run shelter services while their cases were pending and ensured victims received medical services funded by the government, in comparison to the previous year where the government’s role in referring and providing assistance to victims was limited by the lack of qualified cases. The government provided formal written procedures to guide social service officials in proactively identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations; however, it did not provide such procedures for other officials, including law enforcement and immigration officials. The government had not fully operationalized the victim referral measures detailed in the 2014 act. The government provided an NGO-run shelter with 8,965,601 pula ($804,000) during the reporting period. As permitted under the 2014 act, the government granted one foreign national victim an extended stay in Botswana. The government did not penalize trafficking victims for crimes committed in relation to being subjected to trafficking. The government implemented informal measures designed to encourage victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers, in comparison to the previous reporting period where no measures were taken.
The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In January 2016, MDJS established the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee in accordance with the 2014 act. It met twice during the reporting period. The committee and MDJS began work on a national action plan. In July 2015, in collaboration with an international organization, the government hosted an anti-trafficking commemoration day in Palapye to raise awareness on human trafficking; approximately 300 local citizens attended. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts; however, it did not make efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period. It did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.