Last Updated: Monday, 30 May 2016, 07:01 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Special Cases - Botswana

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - Special Cases - Botswana, 4 June 2008, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

The existence of a human trafficking problem in Botswana is suspected but cannot currently be corroborated by reliable reporting. Few people in the country accurately understand the concept of human trafficking and neither NGOs nor international organizations are working on the issue. Police, immigration officials, and NGOs are concerned about human trafficking and admit that conditions exist that could possibly make Botswana a country of transit to South Africa. Botswana has long, porous borders that are difficult to monitor. It also has many residents who are potentially susceptible to trafficking, such as illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, unemployed men and women, those living in rural poverty, agricultural workers in remote areas, and many children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. To combat trafficking effectively, the government should consider drafting and enacting laws that prohibit all forms of human trafficking, and launch a public awareness campaign to educate all Batswana – particularly women, children, and traditional leaders – on the nature and dangers of human trafficking.

Scope and Magnitude. Botswana may be a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. One local NGO received reports from Batswana women that they were forced to provide sexual services to tourists at some safari lodges; however, no complaints have been lodged with law enforcement officials. Parents in marginalized rural communities give their children to better-off families for employment as domestics in towns or herders at remote cattle posts, where these children are vulnerable to abuse, including sexual exploitation. Children engaged to work as domestics are typically promised schooling, but rarely receive it and often work long hours without compensation. Many Batswana households employ Zimbabwean women as domestic workers, often without proper work permits or the adequate payment of wages. The passports of these workers are often held by the employer on the pretext of obtaining legal documents or to avoid being robbed, creating the potential for coercion and abuse of the legal system that can lead to trafficking. Isolated cases of debt bondage have been reported, as well as the trafficking of Zimbabwean nurses and teachers into domestic labor and cattle herding in Botswana.

Government Efforts. Botswana does not have a law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons, and some NGOs believe that local police do not pursue possible trafficking cases because there is no specific law against the crime. Existing Penal Code provisions against abduction, kidnapping, slave trading, forced labor, and procuring persons for the purpose of prostitution could be used to prosecute trafficking cases. No government agency has been given the official lead on human trafficking issues. The Department of Labor, through its local district offices, is responsible for conducting inspections, but monitoring for exploitative child labor is virtually nonexistent. There were no prosecutions, convictions, or fines for human trafficking or the use of exploitative child labor in 2007. In February 2008, the government approved a national plan for action for the elimination of child labor. The government encourages and funds training of law enforcement and immigration personnel in anti-trafficking methods and procedures at regional institutes such as the International Law Enforcement Academy.

As no victims of trafficking have yet been officially identified, law enforcement and social services personnel have not established formal trafficking victim identification procedures, or procedures for referring victims to NGOs for the provision of protective services. However, the government regularly provides funding and other support to a wide range of NGO programs that service the needs of individuals who are most vulnerable to trafficking, especially women and children. While the government has not conducted a trafficking-specific education or awareness campaign, it held workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns on exploitative child labor and hosted the Migration Dialogue for Southern Africa's workshop on "Human Trafficking and Legislative Responses in Southern Africa" in 2007.

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