Botswana (Tier 2)

Botswana is a source, and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. 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 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. A report indicates that the organized prostitution of underage girls may be occurring in Gaborone. 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. Batswana families who employ Zimbabwean women as domestic workers at times do so without proper work permits, do not pay adequate wages, and restrict or control the movement of their employees by threatening to have them deported to Zimbabwe.

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, including the launching of the government's first anti-trafficking awareness campaign, in partnership with UNICEF, and working with UNODC to train officials and formulate anti-trafficking legislation. Despite these efforts, however, the government has not finalized draft comprehensive anti-trafficking legislation, and has failed to prosecute and convict trafficking offenders, but made social services available to potential trafficking victims. While high-level officials display an apparent willingness to address the issue, a government-wide mandate to begin coordinated anti-trafficking work does not yet exist.

Recommendations for Botswana: Complete the drafting of and enact comprehensive legislation that criminalizes all forms of trafficking in persons; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute suspected traffickers under existing laws; develop a formal system to proactively identify trafficking victims and train law enforcement, immigration, and social welfare officials to identify such victims, especially among vulnerable populations such as irregular migrants and women and children in prostitution; expand existing public awareness campaigns to educate the general public on the nature of human trafficking; and begin maintaining detailed records of anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts.


The Government of Botswana made limited progress in anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts over the last year. The government investigated several suspected trafficking cases; however, it did not report any prosecutions of trafficking offenses or convictions of trafficking offenders in 2010. 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), 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. These sections have never been used to prosecute or convict a suspected trafficking offender. Sections 57 and 114 of the 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. Although the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security began drafting a comprehensive anti-trafficking law in October 2009, no action was taken on this bill during the reporting period; however, the government is considering inclusion of anti-trafficking provisions in the revised Serious Crimes Act.

The police reportedly investigated one case of a five-year old who was promised an education by her aunt, but was instead forced to do domestic work and suffered severe physical and verbal abuse. Police and social workers brought the victim to a local shelter; the police formally charged the aunt and she is awaiting trial. Multiple law enforcement officials were trained to effectively investigate cases of human trafficking or to differentiate between smuggling and trafficking. In December 2010, in partnership with UNODC, the government provided law enforcement training, including anti-trafficking issues, to 50 law enforcement officers. A police officer in the National Central Bureau of Interpol is assigned to work exclusively on transnational human trafficking issues.


The government demonstrated minimal efforts to protect victims of trafficking. Botswana has no social services specifically to assist victims of human trafficking. NGO-operated shelters, which received government funding, provided general services to children, including children in prostitution. During the reporting period, police and social workers brought at least one child victim of forced labor to one of these shelters, where she received shelter and assistance. Although the Government of Botswana made available counseling, medical services, food, and accommodation to potential trafficking victims, it did not provide assistance to any persons it identified as victims of trafficking during the reporting period. Law enforcement and social services personnel have not established formal procedures to proactively identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable populations. The government deports undocumented foreign migrants in 24 hours from arrest and, due to limited time and resources, provides informal screening for trafficking victimization for the 300 undocumented foreign migrants deported each day.


The government made moderate efforts to prevent trafficking in and through Botswana. During the reporting period, however, it took no action to complete or implement the draft national action plan it began developing in 2008 and the country remains without a formal inter-ministerial body to coordinate its anti-trafficking work. In June 2010, the Director of Social Services, in partnership with UNICEF, launched an anti-trafficking awareness campaign in preparation for the World Cup in South Africa, which included awareness raising and training for stakeholders. A national committee was formed to oversee this campaign, which held a workshop for stakeholders in April 2010.

The committee also held an outreach event for children in May 2010, which included speeches, a march, poetry, and art competitions, as well as a live radio program on trafficking; 290 participants attended this event, including 260 children. In June and July 2010, the Department of Social Services, the Immigration Department, the Tribal Administration, as well as UNICEF and a local NGO, facilitated three workshops in Gaborone, Lobatse and Palapye; 91 teachers, social workers, immigration officials, and officers from the Botswana United Revenue Service received training on how traffickers operate, what child trafficking entails, and the management of trafficking cases.


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