[ Country-by-Country Reports ]

BOTSWANA (TIER 2)   [Extracted from U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June 2009]

Botswana is a source, transit, and, to a lesser extent, destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purpose of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Children are trafficked internally for domestic servitude and cattle herding, while women report being forced into commercial sexual exploitation at safari lodges. Botswana is a staging area for both the smuggling and trafficking of third-country nationals, primarily from Namibia and Zimbabwe, to South Africa. Zimbabweans are also trafficked into Botswana for forced labor as domestic servants. 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. –Parents in poor rural communities sometimes send their children to work for wealthier families as domestics in cities or as herders at remote cattle posts, where some of these children become victims of forced labor. Some women from Zimbabwe who voluntarily migrate to Botswana to work illegally are subsequently exploited by their employers for forced labor. Batswana families which 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 holding their passports or threatening to have them deported back to Zimbabwe.

The Government of Botswana does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. As this is Botswana’s first year ranked in the Report and available information suggests that Botswana’s trafficking problem is modest, Botswana is placed on Tier 2. The government, however, should address several serious deficiencies over the coming year. . Although it began useful actions to prevent trafficking, the government did not make significant or sustained efforts to proactively identify victims or prosecute trafficking offenders.

Recommendations for Botswana: Draft and enact comprehensive legislation that specifically criminalizes the full range of trafficking offenses; train law enforcement and immigration officers to identify trafficking victims, especially among vulnerable populations such as women and children engaging in prostitution; institute and carry out formal procedures for proactively identifying victims; expand public awareness campaigns to educate residents on the nature and dangers of human trafficking; and keep detailed records of anti-trafficking efforts undertaken and their results.

The Government of Botswana made inadequate efforts to investigate and punish trafficking offenses over the last year. Botswana did not prosecute, convict, or punish any trafficking offenses during the past year. Although it does not have a comprehensive law prohibiting trafficking in persons, the Penal Code, through its sections 155-158 covering procurement for prostitution and sections 260-262 covering slavery, prohibits some forms of human trafficking. The sufficiently stringent penalties prescribed for offenses under these various laws range from seven to 10 years’ imprisonment, and are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Evidence presented in three criminal cases currently being prosecuted suggests that the defendants may have engaged in trafficking. The defendants were originally investigated, arrested and charged for kidnapping, immigration, and fraudulent document offenses. Botswana shares its long and porous borders with five countries experiencing serious trafficking problems, yet only 10 investigators from the Immigration Department covered transnational trafficking and all other migration-related crimes. Immigration and law enforcement officials did not consistently differentiate between smuggling and trafficking, which continued to obscure the nature and extent of the trafficking situation in Botswana. The National Central Bureau of Interpol created a full time position for a desk officer who works exclusively on trafficking issues and education.

The government showed evidence of minimal but increasing efforts to protect victims of trafficking. Law enforcement and social services personnel have not established formal procedures to proactively identify victims or to refer victims for protective services. The Ministry of Labor is responsible for conducting inspections and monitoring for exploitative child labor, yet the Ministry did not conduct any such inspections or monitoring visits in the past year despite a national campaign to end child labor. The government funded and supported NGO programs that provided assistance and services to victims of general crimes which were accessible to any potential victims of trafficking. Botswana authorities, in partnership with another government in the region, assisted the safe repatriation of a trafficking victim to the victim’s country of origin. Botswana’s laws do not specifically protect victims of trafficking from prosecution for offenses committed as a direct result of being trafficked, but the government did not generally prosecute persons it believed to be victims of any crime.

The government made moderate efforts to prevent trafficking in and through Botswana. It placed anti-trafficking education posters at all of its border posts and included trafficking awareness segments in some of its law enforcement training sessions. In 2008, the government approved a detailed national plan of action for the elimination of child labor, which is in its final stages of implementation. Two campaigns promoting an end to child labor, as mentioned above, raised awareness and educated both the public and relevant government agencies. Government representatives attended sessions with NGOs and religious organizations on the trafficking situations they had seen within the country, but the government took no action on the information. The government made only limited and indirect efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, largely through a broad HIV/AIDS awareness campaign.