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.