Gaborone — Botswana has adopted a multi-sectoral Anti-Human Trafficking National Action Plan set to be implemented April next year.
It is against this background that permanent secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, Ms Segakweng Tsiane on Tuesday launched a booklet on Prevention and Combating Trafficking in Persons: Lessons from the SADC Region.
Ms Tsiane said Botswana had also been successful in popularising its Anti-Human Trafficking Act of 2014.
She added that the country had also trained key role players in the prevention of human trafficking, in particular judges, magistrates, prosecutors and investigators.
She explained that Botswana had registered 13 human trafficking cases comprising 39 victims, while five cases had been committed to the High Court for trial.
On other issues, the permanent secretary explained that the UN Convention against traditional organised crime and its corresponding protocol to prevent; suppress and punish trafficking in persons, remained critical and central to
Botswana's commitment to ending human trafficking across the region and beyond.
Ms Tsiane said out of the 15 SADC member states, all are party to the convention and its supplementing protocols.
The convention underscores the inter-connectedness of other serious offences that can be linked to human trafficking such as money laundering, corruption, illicit financial flows and smuggling of migrants, she added.
"In so far as devising strategies and policies to address human trafficking, we have recognised the importance of data capturing and data sharing with the region. The continued deployment of the SADC Regional Trafficking in Persons Data Collection system across member states is an encouraging step," she said.
She explained that so far 11 countries had been connected from such data, in order to garner valuable information that could be used to formulate policies and enhance law enforcement and inter-agency cooperation amont others.
"At a national level, it is, and continues to be the best practice for us to develop and implement national action plans that are inclusive of other key role players such as civil society," she added.
She said the booklet would provide sufficient information to reflect on trajectory and stem the crime of human trafficking and evaluation processes and place each and every SADC member state at a better vantage point to critique and interrogate their policies and strategies in fighting the debilitating and dehumanising crime of human trafficking.
Speaking at the same event, director of Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs at the SADC Secretariat, Mr Jorge Cardoso said trafficking in persons was a complex criminal activity of great concern to the SADC region and worldwide.
He gave an example of the high level meeting of the plenary of the United Nations General Assembly held in September in New York, US, to appraise progress achieved in the implementation of the UN Global Plan of Action to combat trafficking in persons and declared trafficking in persons 'a serious crime and a violation of fundamental rights.
He explained that the 2016 edition of the Global Report on Trafficking in persons published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, a total of 63 251 victims were detected in 106 countries and territories between 2012 and 2014.
In addition, 70 per cent of the 17 752 victims detected in 85 countries in 2014 alone were female. While this number appeared insignificant, it should be emphasised that it was only a fraction of the problem, as a lot of victims were not detected, he added.
Mr Cardoso further explained that the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report published by the American Department of State argued that estimates of the number of victims of human trafficking remained in tens of millions.
He therefore, said it was important that proper systems and mechanisms were put in place to effectively detect and document the victims of trafficking in persons so that Southern Africa, as a region, could know the full scale of the problem and devise appropriate responses to the phenomenon.
He explained that the SADC region, upon realising that trafficking in persons was and remained an area of public security concern, dedicated article 20 (5) of the Protocol on Gender and Development to trafficking in persons.
"This called for among others, enacting and adopting legislative provisions to prevent trafficking in persons and assisting victims of the crime in a holistic manner; enhancing harmonised data collection and reporting, as well as encouraging bilateral and multilateral cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination," he said.
The booklet is a collection of lessons experienced in the SADC region and it will serve as a tool for SADC member states to further build and improve capacity in response to human trafficking. BOPA
Source : BOPA