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 along major highways by truck drivers. The ILO and a child welfare organization in Botswana believe that a significant minority of persons in prostitution are children. Undocumented Asian immigrants may be vulnerable to forced labor due to the threat of deportation; for example, in a previous year, an 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 at 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. Despite these efforts, including the Botswana Police Service’s (BPS) survey of potential trafficking cases, 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 has never criminally prosecuted or convicted a trafficking offender, and did not investigate reports of complicity by officials in trafficking crimes. The Ministry of Defense, Justice, and Security (MDJS)—the lead ministry overseeing anti-trafficking efforts—did not make progress in developing national anti-trafficking policy during the reporting period. The government did not enact draft anti-trafficking legislation or launch an awareness-raising campaign. It also has yet to develop formal victim identification and referral procedures—inhibiting the identification and provision of services to victims among vulnerable groups, including women in prostitution and undocumented migrants. Officials did not address gaps in its social assistance programming, which prevented the provision of protection services to the large majority of children discovered in prostitution in the previous reporting period; the government continued to not provide assistance to these children because they were neither orphans nor destitute.
Recommendations for Botswana:
Enact comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation; increase efforts to investigate and criminally prosecute cases against suspected trafficking offenders using existing laws for both transnational and internal trafficking cases; develop a formal system to identify trafficking victims proactively and refer them to care; 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; establish a program to provide specific care for trafficking victims, either directly or in partnership with NGOs, to provide them accommodation during their support to investigations; develop guidelines for government-provided services to include victims of child prostitution; 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 made minimal progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, as it did not enact draft anti-trafficking legislation and did not demonstrate significant 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 fails to define child trafficking, potentially limiting its utility. As reflected in the 2013 Report, the Attorney General completed drafting anti-trafficking legislation in October 2012 and submitted it to the Cabinet for review in early March 2013. Parliament did not pass the legislation during the reporting period.
In 2013, the government reported on law enforcement efforts to address potential trafficking crimes, but continued to focus on investigating potential trafficking crimes involving transnational movement. It did not investigate any cases involving Batswana victims trafficked internally—including children in prostitution or domestic servitude. The government did not initiate investigations and prosecutions of forced labor and sex trafficking offenses during the year. A trafficking prosecution initiated in 2010 involving an aunt who exploited her niece in domestic servitude was ongoing at the end of the reporting period.
There were no investigations or prosecutions of government employees for complicity in trafficking crimes reported in this and previous reporting periods. A government-funded NGO reported that members of the civil service, including police officers, soldiers, and teachers, were among the clients of children in commercial sex. The government trained an increased number of officials on human trafficking; as part of four workshops over the year, the BPS trained 300 police officers on victim identification and interview techniques.
The government made minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking during the year. The government identified two potential trafficking victims in 2013 and referred them to an NGO. However, the government did not make systematic efforts or develop formal procedures to identify trafficking victims and refer them to care. 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 fourth year and government social workers continued to oversee her case. While a government-funded NGO received a request from a social services official to provide assistance to two potential child trafficking victims from Zimbabwe, it lacked the resources to do so. In the previous reporting period, Department of Social Services staff provided services to only 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; the government did not correct such gaps in social assistance programming during the year.
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, police exclusively arrest persons soliciting prostitution but do not screen this vulnerable population for victimization. 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 approximately 300 undocumented foreign migrants deported each day. Botswana’s informal screening has never resulted in the identification of a trafficking victim.
The government made decreased efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In the previous reporting period, the government began to develop a national action plan; it did not complete or begin to implement this plan in 2013. Despite official recognition of the need to increase the understanding of trafficking among Batswana, the government did not launch any trafficking awareness campaigns for the third consecutive year. In December 2013, in partnership with a foreign embassy and an NGO, the government held a workshop and youth dialogue where officials presented proposed legislation and police acknowledged anti-trafficking challenges in Botswana; the events reached at least 100 youth, in addition to government and foreign officials in attendance. In March 2014, in partnership with IOM and UNHCR, the government held a workshop for civil society and government officials on addressing the challenges of mixed migration, which included a segment on trafficking victims. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.