Botswana has been identified as transit for human trafficking as it shares boarders with many countries in the southern region.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence Justice and Security, Matshidiso Bokole this week at a workshop on trafficking for journalists in Gaborone, noted that Botswana was indeed a gateway to other countries for human traffickers in the region.
The objective of the workshop was for the media to be facilitated to gain better appreciation in anti-human trafficking matters particularly applicable laws.
Bokole said the workshop was meant to enhance media understanding of human trafficking crime and to equip journalists with response mechanisms whenever they encounter such cases.
She said human trafficking has in recent times become a global phenomenon that has grown much more than would have been anticipated.
“This crime not only violates human dignity but goes to inflict untold mental and physical torment on the victim. Any person, who smuggles another into or out of Botswana whether or not doing it to obtain financial or material benefit, commits an offence of smuggling. Such a person is liable to a fine not exceeding P200 000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years or both,” Bokole explained.
She revealed that so far, Botswana has detected and investigated 21 cases of human trafficking, 16 of which are at various stages of prosecution before courts while one has been completed.
Bokole said to improve effectiveness in addressing human trafficking cases, last year they intensified efforts to facilitate training for front line officials in law enforcement.
International Organisation for Migration Officer in Charge, Kagiso Pelopedi noted that the media has an ability to influence public opinion and perceptions on human trafficking crime.
She therefore urged the media to be sensitive when reporting on human trafficking cases giving an example of a recent story on television whereby reporters violated journalism ethics and revealed the name of safe shelter where victims of human trafficking were held.
Revealing the name of the shelter where victims were housed, Pelopedi explained, was not only unethical but was also a violation of the law and therefore liable to a charge.