The government maintained modest 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 ($46,300), 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 ($4,630), or both, penalties which were significantly lower than those prescribed under the 2014 anti-trafficking act. During the reporting period, the government and an international organization finalized drafting implementing regulations for the 2014 act to make it easier for judges and prosecutors to use and submitted them to the Anti-Human Trafficking Committee (AHTC) for approval.
The government initiated three trafficking investigations and continued 10 investigations initiated in prior years, compared to initiating one potential labor trafficking investigation in the previous reporting period. All three cases involved Zimbabwean traffickers who allegedly exploited Zimbabweans in labor and sex trafficking within Botswana. Officials prosecuted all three individuals for forced labor and continued prosecutions against 11 alleged traffickers from previous reporting periods, and all prosecutions remained ongoing at the close of the reporting period. This was compared to no new prosecutions but continuing the same 11 prosecutions in the previous reporting period. The government did not convict any traffickers. This was a decrease from convicting five traffickers in two cases in the previous reporting period. Due to the pandemic, courts did not operate for a significant part of the reporting period. Experts noted the slow pace of Botswana’s judicial system and the lack of qualified interpreters hindered authorities’ ability to prosecute trafficking crimes.
Law enforcement did not investigate reports of government officials allegedly complicit in human trafficking offenses. Neither labor inspectors nor law enforcement investigated the private farms in Ghanzi that officials acknowledged held San individuals in conditions indicative of forced labor. In addition, some local governments and labor inspectors provided advance notice to the farm owners before inspection. Botswana’s laws were broad enough to allow for conviction of political prisoners, and the laws granted authorities the discretion to subject this population to unlawful prison labor, including to private contractors outside of prisons, with indicators of forced labor for private gain. 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. The Ministry of Defence, Justice, and Security (MDJS) funded and conducted a trafficking and smuggling training for 30 security and intelligence officers. Due to the restrictions on large gatherings during the pandemic, the government could not carry out any additional planned 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 did not report cooperating with any foreign governments, compared to collaboration on multiple cases in the previous reporting period.