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The Government of Botswana does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore Botswana remained on Tier 2. The government prosecuted more traffickers and increased funding for victim protection services. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. The government did not convict a trafficker for the second consecutive year, did not amend its law to eliminate the option of a fine in lieu of imprisonment, and reported identifying fewer victims of trafficking.

Formalize the system to refer trafficking 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. • Increase training for prosecutors and judges on Botswana’s 2014 anti-trafficking law so they can more effectively try trafficking cases. • 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 use by 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 front-line officials to identify potential victims of trafficking, to be provided either directly or in partnership with NGOs. • Continue to conduct public awareness campaigns, particularly in rural areas.

The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, but officials noted the judiciary’s lack of familiarity with the Anti-Human Trafficking Act impeded its ability to effectively prosecute suspected traffickers. The 2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking, and defined trafficking broadly to include all child labor. The law prescribed penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment, a fine of 500,000 pula ($46,900), or both, 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 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 a fine of 50,000 pula ($4,690), or both, penalties which were significantly lower than those prescribed under the 2014 anti-trafficking act.

The government initiated investigations of six trafficking cases involving an unknown number of suspects during the reporting period and continued investigations of four cases from the previous reporting period, compared with investigating six cases in 2017. Officials prosecuted 11 suspected traffickers in 2018, compared with prosecuting eight suspects in 2017. Authorities reported continuing eight separate prosecutions from previous years; experts noted judicial processes in Botswana are generally protracted. The government did not convict a trafficker for the second consecutive year, although authorities appealed and sought a stricter sentence during the reporting period for a trafficker convicted in 2016.

The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) continued supporting specialized anti-trafficking units and monitored the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Officials reported coordinating with the governments of Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zimbabwe on multiple transnational trafficking cases, although they did not report details of the investigations. The government investigated one Motswana diplomat for potential trafficking before determining the case was a labor dispute. Officials did not report prosecuting or convicting officials complicit in human trafficking offenses, although authorities acknowledged corruption as a general impediment for effective law enforcement in Botswana. The slow pace of Botswana’s judicial system and the lack of qualified interpreters adversely impacted authorities’ ability to prosecute trafficking crimes.

During the reporting period, the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security (MDJS) reported partnering with the DPP to train 36 officials from all six DPP offices on the Anti-Human Trafficking Act, victim identification, and trafficking indicators. The MDJS and DPP coordinated with an international organization and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to provide training for immigration officials, first responders, social workers, law enforcement officers, and local elected officials in the North Eastern District of Botswana on trafficking data collection. Additionally, the police service continued to include a human trafficking module 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.

The government maintained efforts to identify and protect trafficking victims. The government reported identifying 13 potential victims in 2018; nine adult males exploited in forced labor, three Batswana women exploited in sex trafficking in neighboring countries, and one woman exploited in sex trafficking within the country. For comparison, in 2017, the government reported identifying 19 trafficking victims; three adult and 16 child victims. Officials reported coordinating with NGOs to refer all identified victims to facilities providing shelter, medical care, and other services. The government identified 31 foreign victims during the reporting period, including from Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe; the majority of whom were young women and men in transit to neighboring countries. The government reported spending 3.69 million pula ($346,100) on services for victims of trafficking, repatriations, and staff training, compared with spending 447,000 pula ($41,930) in 2017.

Officials reported providing shelter and other support to 31 foreign victims currently in Botswana; however, the government did not report repatriating foreign victims to their countries of origin, compared with assisting 10 foreign victims return to their countries of origin in 2017. 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. There were no reports officials penalized victims for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked; however, some victims may have remained unidentified and subsequently penalized due to the government’s failure to employ systematic measures to identify trafficking victims among vulnerable populations.

The government maintained 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 at least once during the reporting period, compared with convening four times during the previous reporting period. Officials updated the government’s 2017 National Action Plan to combat trafficking. The MDJS held a national commemoration of the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in July 2018 to raise awareness among the general public, featuring the MDJS Minister, senior government officials, members of the international diplomatic corps, civil society representatives, senior diplomats, as well as a victim of trafficking.

Officials conducted 11 anti-trafficking workshops for social workers from all 26 public hospitals, Industrial Court staff, elected officials, first responders and students, compared with holding 13 anti-trafficking workshops in 2017. The Botswana Police Service also conducted awareness raising sessions with secondary school students at various locations. The government continued to participate in the SADC regional data collection tool by uploading information about trafficking cases, victim and trafficker profiles, and sharing information with countries in the region.

The government reported it regularly conducted labor inspections throughout the country, but did not report sanctioning individuals or firms who may have subjected individuals to trafficking. The government did not demonstrate tangible efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts or forced labor during the year.

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Botswana and traffickers exploit victims from Botswana abroad. 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. Traffickers may exploit young Batswana serving as domestic workers for extended family who may be denied access to education and basic necessities or subjected to confinement or verbal, physical, or sexual abuse—conditions indicative of forced labor. Criminals exploit some Batswana girls and women in prostitution within the country, including in bars and along major highways. Organized trafficking rings subject some Batswana women to trafficking internally or transport women from neighboring countries such as South Africa and Zimbabwe and subject them to sexual exploitation. The government reported some traffickers targeted potential victims via social media, including through advertising fake employment opportunities, with the purpose of exploiting victims in forced labor or sex trafficking. Officials stated traffickers subject adults and children of the San ethnic minority group to labor conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west that may rise to the level of forced labor. Traffickers likely subject some undocumented migrant Zimbabwean children to sex trafficking or forced labor in Botswana.

U.S. Department of State

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