In a bid to address a surge in human trafficking, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is working on a regional protocol on trafficking in persons (TIP).
Over the last five years, the SADC Regional Political Cooperation (RPC) started a research which, amongst other things, sought to assess the extent of human trafficking among member states and also to fortify TIP laws.
While countries in the SADC region have their individual mechanisms to guide in victim identification and referral mechanisms, the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation which met in Tanzania in 2017 also pushed for the TIP protocol to be expedited.
Of the 12 countries which make up the SADC bloc, 14 have moved to establish anti-trafficking structures which assist people who have been victims of human trafficking. The countries are Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Zambia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Eswatini, Angola and Lesotho.
Botswana has also come under the spotlight as it is reported to be a source, transit and destination country for women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.
In 2019, the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, highlighted that in Botswana: “Traffickers subject adults and children of the San ethnic minority group to labour conditions on private farms and cattle posts in Botswana’s rural west that may rise to the level of forced labour. Traffickers likely subject some undocumented migrant Zimbabwean children to sex trafficking or forced labour in Botswana.”
In Botswana, some of the laws criminalising TIP are The Anti Trafficking Act of 2014, No.32 which imposes a fine not exceeding P500 000, or imprisonment of a term not exceeding 25 years, or both to anyone convicted of the crime. Section 114 of the Children’s Act of 2009 provides for the offence of “Abduction and Trafficking inn Children” which attracts a penalty of a fine of up to P50 000.00 or to imprisonment for a term of not less than five years but not more than 15 years.
Trafficking in persons is defined as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.