Bill to advance Botswana ranking to tier one

03 Dec 2023

The Anti-Human Trafficking (Amendment) Bill is a response to recommendations made to Botswana by the USA trafficking in persons report, which ranks all nations according to a tier system, says Minister of Justice Machana Shamukuni.

Presenting the Bill before Parliament on Thursday, Mr Shamukuni said in terms of international ranking, Botswana had been packed at tier two out of four possible tiers.

“It is my wish that the enactment of this Bill will also cause Botswana’s ranking to advance to tier one,” he said.

Mr Shamukuni said Botswana domesticated the United Nations Convention of transnational organised crime through the enactment of the Anti-Human Trafficking Act in 2014.

However, he said the current law had deficiencies, which if ratified, would facilitate the attainment of minimal standards for elimination of human trafficking.

He said the current Act allowed for fines in lieu of imprisonment, which was contrary to international best practices especially given the evasive and debilitating effects of human trafficking on the victim.

Furthermore, he said the current law also imposed penalties, which were not commensurate with penalties for other forms of serious crimes such rape and sex trafficking particularly where children were involved.

He said the Bill had 12 clauses and at clause five the amendment would introduce Section 9(a) dealing with severe forms of trafficking in persons which included a child, a person with disability or victim who was particularly vulnerable.

Mr Shamukuni said the penalties were increased such that they were sufficiently stringent. He said the use of drugs and habit-forming medication in trafficking a person attracted a sentence of 30 years or a maximum of life imprisonment and a fine of not less than P1 million.

He said clause six amended section 10 of the Act by enhancing penalties for acts that enhance human trafficking from sentences of 25 years and fines of P100 000 to sentences of life imprisonment and fines of up to P1 million.

Additionally, he said clause seven amended section 12 of the Act by aggravating penalties pertaining to the use of trafficked persons for sentences of 15 years and P400 000 to sentences of life imprisonment and fines of up P1 million.

He said clause eight amended section 12(a) of the Act pertaining to the smuggling of persons such that the offence attracted new penalties from 15 years to life imprisonment and fines P200 000 to P1 million.

As for clause nine, Mr Shamukuni said it would insert a new section pertaining to attempts while it criminalises the act of any person who attempts to commit any offence under the Act, while clause 10 amended section 20 pertaining to the victim’s right to privacy by increasing penalties of breach of the victim’s privacy from a sentence of 10 years to 15 years and new minimum fines of P20 000.

He said clause 12 of the Bill amended section 30 pertaining to extra territorial jurisdiction such that any citizen of Botswana or any person who permanently resides in Botswana who commits serious offences of trafficking in person were liable to maximum penalties of life imprisonment and a fine of P1 million.

Mr Shamukuni said Anti-Human Trafficking (Amendment) Bill No. 18 of 2023 was published on October 20, 2023. He said Human Trafficking was a multi-faceted, multi-layered and dynamic form of trans-national organised crime.

He said the crime often manifests itself in the most invasive forms of exploitation and offences against a person to include forced labour, sexual exploitation and organ removal.

Mr Shamukuni said in 2002, Botswana ratified the United Nations convention on trans-national organised crime representing a major step towards the fight against trans-national organised crime.

He said the ratification was supplemented by three protocols being the protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in person especially women and children.

“The second protocol is that against the smuggling of migrants by land, sea and air while the third was a protocol against the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in fire arms, their parts and components and ammunition,” he said.

Mr Shamukuni said once amended, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act would ensure that government met the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking as espoused in the UN convention of trans-national organised crime and its supplementing protocol to prevent, suppress and punish human trafficking in persons especially women and children.

He said the Bill takes cognisance of present-day challenges in the fluid landscape and complexities of human trafficking. Minister Shamukuni said it catered for corporate criminal liability to ensure accountability not just on the part of the individuals but groups of individuals and corporations. Ends

Source : BOPA

Author : Moshe Galeragwe

Location : GABORONE

Event : PARLIAMENT

Date : 03 Dec 2023