The government increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. 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 ($42,700), 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 or a fine of 50,000 pula ($4,270), or both, penalties which were significantly lower than those prescribed under the 2014 anti-trafficking act. The government drafted amendments to the 2014 anti-trafficking act to align with international standards; however, adoption remained pending by the end of the reporting period. The government and an international organization previously drafted implementing regulations for the 2014 act to make it easier for judges and prosecutors to use and submitted them to the Human Trafficking (Prohibition) Committee, which remained pending approval by the end of the reporting period.
The government reported investigating one sex trafficking case and continuing five case investigations from previous reporting periods, compared with initiating three labor trafficking investigations in the previous reporting period. The government prosecuted two suspects for sex trafficking and continued prosecutions against 17 suspects from previous reporting periods. This compared with two new prosecutions and 11 continued prosecutions in the previous reporting period. The government convicted four traffickers under its anti-trafficking law, two for sex trafficking, one for labor trafficking, and one unspecified, compared with no convictions in the previous reporting period. In the first conviction in two years, the government sentenced a Zimbabwean trafficker to 10 years in prison, which was the first prison sentence in several years and a shift from fines and suspended sentences imposed previously. The government did not report sentences for the other convictions. Pandemic restrictions restricted law enforcement efforts to gather evidence and collaborate with regional partners. The government also reported that border closures resulted in a smaller caseload. Courts did not operate for a significant portion of the reporting period and used virtual courts, when possible, resulting in a backlog of cases. Observers also noted the slow pace of Botswana’s judicial system and the lack of qualified interpreters hindered authorities’ ability to prosecute trafficking crimes.
The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes; however, corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action during the year. Neither labor inspectors nor law enforcement reported investigating private farms in Ghanzi acknowledged by officials to hold San individuals in conditions indicative of forced labor. In addition, observers reported some local governments and labor inspectors provided advance notice to the farm owners before inspection. Authorities acknowledged corruption as a general impediment to law enforcement efforts.
The Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) continued to support specialized anti-trafficking units and monitored the investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases. Due to restrictions on large gatherings during the pandemic, the government did not conduct training for DPP and other officials. The police academy 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 cooperated with the Governments of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, and Tanzania on one trafficking prosecution and five investigations during the reporting period. The government reported signing a memorandum of understanding with the Government of Zimbabwe to formalize cooperation on child trafficking cases.