The Use of Children as Child Soldiers -Botswana

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The Use of Children as Child Soldiers -Botswana

Botswana has not signed the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
Population: 1,518,000
Under-18s: 758,000 (50%)1

Governmental Armed Forces2

Active: 7,500 (Army: 7,000, but due to be raised to 10,000; Air Wing: 500)
Paramilitary: 1,000
Police Mobile Unit: 1,000

National Recruitment Legislation

Recruitment into the armed forces is on a voluntary basis. Enlistment is regulated by the Botswana Defence Force Act of April 15, 1977. (3) In Section 17 it is stated that “a person offering to enlist in the Regular Force shall be given a notice in the prescribed form setting out the questions to be answered on attestation and stating the general conditions of the engagement.” An officer shall recruit a person only if he has been given such a notice, understands it and wishes to be enlisted.

Only one condition is formally mentioned in this Section, namely to have the apparent age of 18 years. Section 26 (1) of the Botswana Defence Force Act states that “if a person appearing before a recruiting officer for the purpose of being enlisted in the Regular Force knowingly makes a false answer to any question contained in the attestation paper and put to him by or by the direction of the recruiting officer, he shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding P100 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months, or to both.”It is not known, however, if age is one of the questions in this notice.

According to UNICEF there are no military schools in Botswana.

National Recruitment Practice

It is not known how the legislative requirements are implemented in practice, in particular if and how exact age is determined. There is, however, no evidence of underage recruitment taking place.

Child Participation in Armed Conflict

There is no armed conflict in Botswana.

In September 1998 Botswana sent troops to Lesotho as part of the peacekeeping mission of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). There is no evidence that any underage soldiers were among the Botswana contingent.

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