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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. The government demonstrated increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Botswana remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by investigating and prosecuting more trafficking cases than in the previous reporting period and obtaining its first trafficking conviction under the 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act. The government also identified more victims of trafficking, established a specialized anti-trafficking unit, and appointed two officials, trained on human trafficking, to monitor the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not amend the 2009 Children’s Act to include in the definition of child trafficking, the commercial sexual exploitation of children without requiring the means of force, coercion, or movement. The government’s efforts to protect victims were uneven. In the government’s first trafficking conviction, the trafficker served only eight months of an 18-month sentence in prison, although the government’s appeal of that sentence was pending at the end of the reporting period.


Formalize the system to refer victims to social services and ensure all victims receive protective services; amend the anti-trafficking laws to ensure penalties are sufficiently stringent by eliminating fines in lieu of prison time and disallow suspended sentences when sentencing convicted traffickers; increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers; implement formal victim identification procedures for all stakeholders, including law enforcement and immigration officials, and train officials on the procedures; 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; 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 criminalizes all forms of trafficking, essentially tracking international law and making it a crime to use force, fraud or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. The 2014 Act defines “exploitation” broadly to include not only forced labor and prostitution, but also forced or child marriage and child labor. The Act prescribes penalties for sex and labor trafficking of up to 25 years imprisonment or a fine of 500,000 pula ($46,852), which are sufficiently stringent; however, allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking is not commensurate with the penalties for other serious crime, such as rape. Similarly, provisions of the Children’s Act criminalize various forms of child trafficking, subject to fines or imprisonment of both. Sections 57 of the 2009 Children’s Act makes it a crime to induce, coerce or encourage a child to engage in prostitution, subject to two to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of 50,000 pula ($4,685). Section 114 of the Children’s Act makes it a crime to abduct or sell any child or to use any child to beg, subject to a fine of between 30,000 ($2,811) and 50,000 pula ($4,685), imprisonment of five to 15 years, or both.

The government investigated 12 trafficking cases and prosecuted 18 defendants under the 2014 Act, compared with five investigations and seven prosecutions in the previous reporting period. The government secured its first ever trafficking conviction, which was under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act. The High Court sentenced the trafficker, a South African woman, to 18-months imprisonment, nine of which were suspended. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) appealed the sentence to seek a more stringent penalty; the appeal was pending at the close of the reporting period. The DPP established a specialized anti-trafficking unit and appointed two trained focal points, one law enforcement officer and one prosecutor, to monitor the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.

In June 2016, the Ministry of Defense, Justice, and Security (MDJS) and a consortium of international organizations and donors hosted a course for trainers of criminal justice practitioners and law enforcement on employing a victim-centered approach in investigations and prosecutions. The government provided transportation for law enforcement officers stationed countrywide to participate in the training. In December 2016, the DPP conducted a one-day workshop on the Anti-Human Trafficking Act for judges of the Industrial Court responsible for labor disputes, Additionally, 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 requested mutual legal assistance and completed joint investigations with Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Kenya on trafficking cases.


The government maintained uneven efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The government identified 27 victims during the reporting period—four child sex trafficking victims, three child victims of forced labor, and 20 adult victims of forced labor—an increase from six victims identified during the previous year. However, the government’s referrals of victims for assistance were limited. It referred four girls to an NGO-run shelter to receive protective services. The government did not provide formal written procedures to guide social service, law enforcement, or immigration officials in proactively identifying victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations. The NGO-run shelter used its own assessment process for victim eligibility for admission to the shelter and access to care services. The government had not fully operationalized the victim referral measures detailed in the 2014 Act. The government paid for legal expenses and repatriation of a Motswana child trafficking victim exploited in Canada during the reporting period. The government was not known to have penalized trafficking victims for crimes committed in relation to being subjected to trafficking. The government encouraged victims to assist in the investigation and prosecution of traffickers by providing housing and food throughout the period of investigation. All trafficking victims voluntarily provided written testimony as evidence. However, due to a slow judicial process, one foreign child victim had to remain in Botswana for a prolonged period of time to testify during the lengthy trial process.


The government increased prevention efforts. In December 2016, the MDJS conducted a workshop for recruitment agencies to raise awareness of human trafficking and highlight potential vulnerabilities in liaising with international recruitment agencies. The ministry also issued a press release following the training to advise citizens and agencies to consult with government officials if they encountered a dubious employment offer. In January 2017, MDJS, in collaboration with an international organization, hosted training for civil society, which included a session on law enforcement and civil society cooperation on anti-trafficking advocacy and awareness raising. MDJS officials also held awareness and capacity building sessions on human trafficking with social workers, district council members, and students throughout the country. The DPP trained nationals of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Swaziland on anti-trafficking. The Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, established under MDJS in the previous reporting period in accordance with the 2014 act, met four times during the reporting period. The committee and MDJS did not complete a national action plan, which it began drafting during the previous reporting period. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the reporting period. It did not provide anti-trafficking training for its diplomatic personnel.


As reported over the past five years, 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 by truck drivers along major highways. Some women may be subjected to trafficking internally or transported from neighboring countries and subjected to sexual exploitation. Officials confirmed adults and children of the San ethnic minority group are subjected to labor conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west that might rise to the level of forced labor. Undocumented migrant Zimbabwean children might be vulnerable to trafficking in Botswana. There has been no comprehensive international or domestic study of trafficking trends within the country.

U.S. Department of State

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