Botswana also implements birth certificate regulation

02 December 2016 | International

ELLANIE SMIT

With the holidays around the corner Namibians should be aware that Botswana has also introduced strict new requirements for children travelling to and from the country.

All minors aged 18 years and below entering Botswana will be required to produce their birth certificates and passports to be allowed entry in a bid to curb human trafficking.

The Botswana requirements are similar to the ones South Africa introduced on 1 June last year, which many said damaged South Africa’s tourism industry.

The new requirements were introduced by Botswana on 1 October and require minors travelling through Botswana’s borders to produce certified copies of unabridged birth certificates in addition to valid passports.

According to an official statement that was issued by the Botswana government no child under the age of 18 will be allowed to enter the country without the documents required from their parents.

In the event that one parent is not travelling with the child, the other parent’s affidavit consenting to the travel should be presented. However, an affidavit will not be required if the father’s name does not appear on the child’s birth certificate.

A spokesperson for Namibia’s home affairs ministry, Salome Kambala, yesterday urged Namibians who wanted to travel through Botswana to adhere to the requirements and avoid being turned back at the border.

When South Africa last year made it compulsory for anyone travelling to the country to carry an unabridged birth certificate for their children (under the age of 18) or risk being declined entry there was a lot of consternation regarding the new regulations.

The unabridged birth certificate requirement was seen by many within the tourism industry as a potential barrier for foreign visitors to South Africa since in some instances it required a considerable amount of logistical measures, time and money.

The Southern Africa Tourism Association (SATSA) last year told Namibian Sun that the implementation of the unabridged birth certificate could be devastating for Namibia’s tourism industry too.

“The new regulation will be catastrophic for Namibia as it will not only impact on South African tourists coming to Namibia, but also Namibians that want to visit South Africa. We must send a strong message that it is ill-conceived and out of bounds not only for us, but also for Namibia.”

Both Botswana and South Africa have implemented the new regulations in an effort to curb child trafficking, but in South Africa tourism experts say the government did not do their homework.

It has been reported that the new visa regulations, which has seen tourism figures plummet in the past two years, were instituted based on an estimate that 30 000 minors are trafficked through South African borders every year and 50% of these minors are under 14 years. Actual figures, however, reveal that only 23 cases of child trafficking have been uncovered in the past three years.

The issue tops the agenda at the upcoming Tourism Business Council of South Africa board meeting scheduled for 6 December. The early consensus is that the government must be dragged to court and the tourism industry is keen to sponsor such court action.

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