The government demonstrated mixed anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, and officials noted the judiciary’s lack of familiarity with the Anti-Human Trafficking Act continued to impede 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 ($47,400), 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. Section 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 ($4,740), or both, which were significantly lower than those prescribed under the 2014 anti-trafficking act.
The government investigated one case of potential labor trafficking, compared with investigating six cases in 2018. Officials did not newly prosecute any potential traffickers for sex or labor trafficking, compared with prosecuting 11 suspects in 2018. The government reported continuing prosecutions involving 25 defendants from previous years; experts noted judicial processes in Botswana were generally protracted. The government convicted five traffickers in two cases, compared with zero convictions in 2018. In one case, government courts sentenced two South African traffickers to 18 months’ imprisonment, of which nine months were suspended because the defendants had already spent eight months in prison; but, government courts immediately released them, and they returned to South Africa. Government courts sentenced three Zimbabwean traffickers to two years’ imprisonment, which it suspended in its entirety, and fined the traffickers 10,000 pula ($950); however, because the traffickers could not pay the fines, the Department of Prisons administered seven lashes.
The Directorate of Public Prosecution continued supporting specialized anti-trafficking units and monitored the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Officials did not report prosecuting or convicting officials complicit in human trafficking offenses, although authorities acknowledged corruption as a general impediment to effective law enforcement in Botswana. The slow pace of Botswana’s judicial system and the lack of qualified interpreters adversely affected authorities’ ability to prosecute trafficking crimes. During the reporting period, the government funded and conducted trainings for civil society, journalists, prosecutors, district-level child protection committees, churches, and the private sector on trafficking indicators, the anti-trafficking law, and victim protection principles. In collaboration with an international organization, the government conducted a judicial colloquium for judges and magistrates on the anti-trafficking law. 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.