44 Batswana trafficked in last four years

Government recorded a total of 44 cases in which Batswana were trafficked out of the country, largely due to police incompetence and lack of intelligence service to avert trafficking.

Presenting the statistics at the High-Level Thematic Regional Seminar on trafficking persons in Southern Africa Botswana Police Deputy Divisional CID Officer, South Central Division Richard Butali said despite these officers are not trained for such investigations. The statistics indicate that 20 of the 44 trafficked Batswana are minors aged from 0-15 years. Six of them are boys and the rest are girls. The 3 children were trafficked to Zimbabwe (5), South Africa (3) and Malawi, Kenya, England, Canada and America followed with each country receiving two. As for adults, the statistics indicate that their main trafficking destination is Canada and by far, 22 females and three males have been trafficked to the country.

The age group getting trafficked the most is 30 to 45 years followed by ages 15 to 30, 0 to 15 and over 45 years. Butali pointed out that currently there is no law that specifically tackles trafficking saying they depend on a number of laws to address trafficking issues. “But they are not as effective because they don’t directly deal with the crime,” he said. Butali said human trafficking is complex in that most of the time victims are not cooperative, there is corruption involved and often traffickers use aliases and not their real names, which makes it hard to track them down. “Anti trafficking legislation needs to be passed in parliament so that there can be action on the ground.” Permanent Secretary for Justice Defense and Security Augustine Makgonatsotlhe said human trafficking is a very complex matter as it is a multi million-dollar business that affects crime syndicates worldwide. “We need to come up with measures to tackle this modern day form of slavery.” He said that the Penal Code and other pieces of legislation such as the Children’s Act are continuously used to address offences akin to human trafficking and offenses against liberty of persons such as kidnapping, abduction, detaining of persons as slaves and forced labour.

“Review of our legislative framework shows that provisions of other laws are inadequate to deal with sophisticated organised crime syndicates and the trans-boundary nature of human trafficking.” However, the Ministry of Defense, Justice and Security has been working with international and national stakeholders and civil society organisations to develop a meaningful trafficking legislation and has thusw far come up with the Anti-Human Trafficking Bill 2012, which will be presented to cabinet once all administrative and logistical arrangements have been done. “If left unchecked the consequences of human trafficking are far-reaching and dire,” Makgonatsotlhe said adding that people continue to be exposed to sexual exploitation, forced labour and even organ harvesting. “Their exploitation is exacerbated by conditions in poor rural communities where sometimes even parents succumb to their children going to cities looking for work as domestic workers,” said former President Sir Ketumile Masire, adding that the same could be said for herders at remote cattle posts where some children are subjected to forced labour.

Masire said he has noted with concern that a number of countries in the SADC region are recorded as providing the source, conduit and destination for human trafficking. The targeted sector is mostly women and children who because of their vulnerability find themselves being engaged in forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation. He said records indicate that young women and girls are exploited in prostitution within countries especially in bars and along highways where truck drivers pick them.

Globally the International Labour Organisation 2012 report estimates that 20.9 million people were trafficked.

Last modified on Friday, 06 December 2013 15:05

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