Last Updated: Friday, 16 February 2018, 15:01 GMT

2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Botswana

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 19 June 2012
Cite as United States Department of State, 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report - Botswana, 19 June 2012, available at: [accessed 17 February 2018]
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.


Botswana is a source and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Residents in Botswana most susceptible to trafficking are illegal immigrants from Zimbabwe, unemployed men and women, those living in rural poverty, agricultural workers, and children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Some parents in poor rural communities send their children to work for wealthier families as domestic servants in cities, or as herders at remote cattle posts, where some become victims of forced labor. Young Batswana, serving as domestic workers for extended family or friends of family, in some cases may be subjected to confinement, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse and denied access to education and basic necessities, conditions indicative of forced labor. Batswana girls are exploited in prostitution within the country, including in bars and by truck drivers along major highways. The ILO and child welfare organizations in Botswana confirm that a significant minority of persons in prostitution are children. Batswana families who employ Zimbabwean women as domestic workers at times restrict or control the movements of these workers, or threaten to have them deported to Zimbabwe as a means to maintain their labor. Indians and Pakistanis are brought into Botswana under false pretenses for forced labor in the agricultural sector by traffickers of the same nationalities; recently identified victims reported non-payment of wages and withholding of passports. NGOs report forced labor of San people – including adults and children – on private farms and cattle posts.

The Government of Botswana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. During the reporting period, the government appointed a lead ministry – the Ministry of Defense, Justice, and Security (MDJS) – to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts and the drafting of comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation. Additionally, the government convicted and administratively penalized one trafficking offender – the first trafficking conviction in Botswana – under the Employment of Non-Citizens Act, and rescued two trafficking victims and two additional potential victims. Despite these efforts, the government has yet to criminally prosecute a trafficking offender for trafficking violations, it has not developed formal identification and referral procedures, and it did not continue awareness campaigns started in the previous reporting period.

Recommendations for Botswana: Begin drafting comprehensive legislation criminalizing all forms of trafficking in persons and incorporating a broader definition of trafficking in persons consistent with the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; increase efforts to investigate and criminally prosecute suspected traffickers under existing laws in both transnational and internal trafficking cases; develop a formal system to identify proactively trafficking victims and continue to train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials to use this system to identify victims among vulnerable populations; launch public awareness campaigns to educate the general public on the nature of human trafficking; and institute a unified system for documenting and collecting data on human trafficking cases.


The Government of Botswana demonstrated progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. Drafting of anti-trafficking legislation has not begun. It provided data on potential trafficking prosecutions for the first time, including evidence of its first conviction of a trafficking offender on a labor violation, for which the offender was penalized by a fine. Although Botswana does not have a law specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons, provisions in the Penal Code of 1998, such as those in sections 155-158 (forced prostitution) and sections 260-262 (slavery and forced labor), prohibit some forms of trafficking. The sufficiently stringent penalties prescribed for offenses under these sections range from seven to 10 years' imprisonment, and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Sections 57 and 114 of the 2009 Children's Act prohibit child prostitution and child trafficking, respectively; section 57 prescribes penalties of two to five years' imprisonment for facilitation or coercion of children into prostitution, while section 114 prescribes penalties of five to 15 years' imprisonment for child trafficking. The Children's Act, however, fails to define child trafficking, potentially limiting its utility. In December 2011, the cabinet approved a memo directing the attorney general to begin drafting anti-trafficking legislation.

In January 2012, MDJS produced a document containing law enforcement statistics – the government's first effort to report trafficking data – which noted the investigation of several potential trafficking cases and the first known enforcement actions taken against labor traffickers in Botswana. In August 2011 the Botswana Police Service (BPS) arrested a Motswana individual, and in November 2011 deported an Indian national suspected of forcing two Indians to labor on a farm. Charged with the administrative violation of employing non-citizens without a proper work permit under the Employment of Non-Citizens Act, the Motswana pled guilty and paid a $133 fine in August 2011; along with the Indian national suspect, he also paid the $2,500 salary arrears for each victim and provided them return tickets home. The government failed to seek criminal prosecution and imprisonment of the offenders under Penal Code section 262 (forced labor), and the administrative fines were insufficient to serve as a deterrent to trafficking crimes. In a potential transnational labor trafficking case detected by airport authorities, an immigration officer facilitated the illegal movement of Ethiopian nationals to South Africa, as authorities believe, for the purpose of forced labor. The government declared this official unfit for service and she resigned from the Immigration Service in March 2012; it also arrested and deported a Zimbabwean national in October 2011 for his suspected role. A trafficking prosecution initiated in 2010 remained ongoing. During the reporting period, 81 police officers received training at the Botswana Police College on the identification of trafficking victims.


Although the government demonstrated modest efforts to protect victims of transnational trafficking, it did not identify any victims of internal trafficking during the year. Botswana has no social services specifically to assist victims of human trafficking. The BPS rescued two Indian trafficking victims and two potential Ethiopian trafficking victims; all four victims were repatriated to their countries of origin, but not provided with additional protective services. The government did not penalize those rescued for crimes committed as a result of their being trafficked, including immigration violations; however, Botswana's laws do not specifically protect trafficking victims from penalization for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. In one case, the government facilitated the victims' repatriation by sentencing their traffickers to pay for their return tickets; however, the government did not provide foreign victims with temporary residency or legal alternatives to their removal to countries where they could face hardship or retribution. The government deports undocumented foreign migrants within 24 hours of arrest and, due to limited time and resources, provides only informal screening for trafficking victimization for the 300 undocumented foreign migrants deported each day. This informal screening has never resulted in the identification of a trafficking victim.

The government funded NGO-operated shelters, which provided general services to children, including children in prostitution. One child victim of domestic servitude, identified during the previous reporting period, remained within the care of one such shelter for a second year and government social workers continued to oversee her case. The government has yet to develop a systematic process for the proactive identification and referral of victims among vulnerable populations, such as irregular migrants and women and children in prostitution; however, in March 2011, the government began training border police in victim identification.


Although the government built its capacity to address the country's human trafficking problem through the identification of a lead ministry, it made minimal efforts to prevent trafficking during the year. In August 2011, the minister of presidential affairs and public administration designated the minister of defense, justice, and security as the lead on anti-trafficking issues. Despite official recognition of the need to increase the understanding of trafficking among Batswana, the government neither launched any prevention campaigns during the year, nor continued those started in the previous reporting period. In partnership with the ILO, the government implemented its Program for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor and began compiling a list of hazardous forms of work, both of which cover some forms of trafficking. During the year, the Department of Labor partnered with the Department of Social Services to advocate against and raise awareness of exploitative child labor on Radio Botswana and Botswana TV. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts during the reporting period.

Search Refworld