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BOTSWANA: Tier 2

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 increased efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Botswana remained on Tier 2. The government demonstrated increasing efforts by investigating and prosecuting traffickers and training law enforcement and judicial officials on Botswana’s Anti-Human Trafficking Act and sentencing guidelines. The government continued to identify trafficking victims and refer them to protective services, and continued to conduct awareness-raising activities throughout the country. The government adopted and launched a national action plan for the first time. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government decreased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The government identified fewer trafficking victims and 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 government did not have access to conduct labor inspections of private cattle farms where child labor is widely believed to exist.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR BOTSWANA

Formalize the system to refer victims to social services and ensure all victims receive protective services; amend the anti-trafficking law to remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment; disallow suspended sentences for convicted traffickers; implement the newly adopted anti-trafficking national action plan; 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.

PROSECUTION

The government decreased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. The 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act criminalized labor and sex trafficking. The law defined trafficking broadly to include all child labor. The law prescribed penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment or a fine of 500,000 pula ($51,000), which were sufficiently stringent; however, by allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, with regard to sex trafficking, these penalties were not commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Sections 57 of the 2009 Children’s Act criminalized inducing, coercing, or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, and prescribed penalties of two to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of 50,000 pula ($5,100), penalties which were significantly lower than those prescribed under the 2014 anti-trafficking act.

The government investigated six trafficking cases and launched prosecutions against eight defendants under two sections of the 2014 anti-trafficking act, compared with 12 investigations and 18 prosecutions in the previous reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers compared with one conviction during the previous reporting period. The Directorate of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) appeal of a partially suspended sentence for a convicted trafficker initiated in the previous reporting period remained pending. The DPP established specialized anti-trafficking units 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 April 2017, the Ministry of Defense, Justice, and Security (MDJS), in partnership with an international organization, trained magistrates and high court judges on Botswana’s Anti-Human Trafficking Act and appropriate sentencing for offenders. The government provided transportation for law enforcement officers stationed countrywide to participate in the training. The government supported 15 workshops, organized by an international organization and Southern African Development Community (SADC), for front-line responders including child protection and law enforcement officers, district officers, and border officials on victim protection procedures. Additionally, the police service included a section on human trafficking in its curriculum to educate recruits and in its in-service training for officers on the anti-trafficking law, victim identification, and investigation of human trafficking cases.

PROTECTION

The government maintained uneven efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The government identified three adult and six child trafficking victims during the reporting period—three girls and three boys, of which two were labor trafficking victims and four were sex trafficking victims, two were Batswana and four were foreign nationals—a decrease from 27 victims identified during the previous year. The government referred all child victims to a government-funded NGO-run shelter to receive protective services; it disbursed 447,000 pula ($45,590) to the shelter to provide care services. A women’s shelter, which cared for adult victims in the past, did not report any referrals. The government repatriated 10 foreign victims to their countries of origin, funding the costs of transport, flights, and hotels. The government did not provide formal written procedures to guide social service, law enforcement, or immigration officials in proactively identifying victims of trafficking and did not fully operationalize the victim referral measures detailed in the 2014 anti-trafficking act. One NGO-run shelter used its own assessment process for victim eligibility for admission to the shelter and access to care services. There were no reports officials fined, detained, or penalized trafficking victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; due to the lack of formal victim identification procedures, however, some victims may have remained unidentified in the law enforcement system.

PREVENTION

The government increased prevention efforts. The Anti-Human Trafficking Committee, established under the MDJS in the previous reporting period in accordance with the 2014 anti-trafficking act, met four times during the reporting period. The committee adopted and launched a national action plan to combat trafficking. The MDJS coordinated multiple awareness-raising events throughout the country, including visiting secondary schools in areas where the prevalence of trafficking was high, reaching an estimated 15,000 students. The government conducted a random survey of 1,500 students who participated to determine the effectiveness of its outreach and more than 70 percent of students reported their awareness of trafficking was improved. The government conducted nine anti-trafficking workshops for community leaders, including traditional chiefs, and district councilors and an additional four workshops for religious organizations. MDJS officials also conducted a workshop for civil society organizations at the NGO Council forum. The Assistant DPP contributed to various regional training courses, training on prosecutorial strategies in trafficking cases as well as presenting on cross-border cooperation. Additionally, as a member of a Southern African regional task force, the office of the DPP provided technical input to the Regional Trafficking in Human Beings manual. The government continued to participate in the SADC regional data collection tool by uploading trafficking cases, victim and trafficker profiles, and sharing information with countries in the region. Through its participation in the data tool, UNODC and SADC launched the first annual draft analysis report for the region. The government reported it conducted labor inspections regularly throughout the country, but an NGO reported it was unaware of inspections of private cattle farms where child labor is widely believed to exist. The government made efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period by conducting periodic sting operations in establishments notorious for commercial sex; however, it did not make efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

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

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future