Botswana – a haven for forced labour & sex trafficking – US Report

Botswana is a source, transit and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking, the U.S. Department of State 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report  (TIP) released yesterday has revealed. According to the findings of the report, susceptible persons to trafficking include unemployed women, those living in poverty, agricultural workers and children.

The report states that young   Batswana who usually serve as domestic workers for extended families are usually denied access to education and basic necessities, subjected to confinement or verbal, physical or sexual abuse  and that such conditions are indicative of forced labour in the country.

Furthermore, it states that Batswana girls and women are exploited in prostitution within the country  while some are trafficked internally or to neighbouring countries for sexual exploitation.

“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,”  the  report states.

The report analyzes the efforts of 188 countries to comply with minimum standards required to eliminate human trafficking for sexual exploitation or forced labour.
Countries are separated into three different levels with Tier 1 being the countries most compliant to standards set to combat human trafficking through Tier 3, the countries who do the least to prevent the “scourge of modern slavery.”

Tier 2 has a “Watch List” of countries who will fall into the bottom level if they do not attempt to improve efforts to combat human trafficking.
Botswana has thus been placed under the Tier 2 Watch list, which is for  countries whose governments do not fully comply with Trafficking Victims Protection Act ( TVPAs) of the United States of America minimum standards but making significant efforts.  Botswana is placed together with countries like Lesotho, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo,  Ghana, China,  Djibouti   and Mauritius amongst others.

TVPAs  minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking in persons states that  governments  of countries   should  prohibit severe forms of trafficking and punish acts of such trafficking as well as make serious and sustained efforts to eliminate severe forms of trafficking in persons amongst others.

“Despite these efforts, the government did not demonstrate evidence of overall increasing anti-trafficking  efforts compared to the previous year; therefore, Botswana is placed on Tier 2 Watch List,” the report read, adding, “  The government investigated potential incidents of human trafficking and sexual exploitation of adults  and children under existing laws. However, the government has  not yet criminally prosecuted or convicted a trafficking offender under the new law. During the reporting period the government continued to conflate transnational movement with trafficking, thereby undermining its capacity to vigorously investigate potential trafficking cases and implement the new anti-trafficking law.”

Recommendations have been outlined by the U.S State Department report  and they include increased efforts to investigate and criminally prosecute suspected trafficking  using the recently enacted  2014 Anti-Human Trafficking Act for both internal and transnational trafficking cases. Also recommended is the   development  and implementation  of  a  robust  system that will proactively identify  trafficking  victims and refer to them for assistance to specialized  service providers as well as raising  public awareness on human trafficking.

The 2014 TIP report had also described  Botswana as  a  source and destination country  for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Although this is so, there has not been any comprehensive  study  carried out both internally  or internationally of trafficking trends in the country.
US Secretary of State has estimated that Human trafficking is an illicit $150 billion industry that has robbed millions of basic human rights.