218 Saudis charged with smuggling Haj pilgrims into holy sites
Seasonal administrative committees at the General Directorate of Passports in Al-Shumaisi and Taif have charged 218 citizens and 36 residents with smuggling illegal and unlicensed pilgrims into the holy sites during Haj.
The director general of the Passport Department in Makkah, Col. Khlaf Allah Al-Tuwairqi, said the committees also booked 53 vehicles whose owners have been arrested for helping transport illegal pilgrims more than once.
Al-Tuwairqi called on visitors coming to the Kingdom to perform Haj or Umrah to comply with the laws of the land and leave the country after completing their religious duties before the expiry of their visas.
Meanwhile, the General Directorate of Passports issued a list of possible penalties against those found violating any of the regulations.
Any individual involved in transporting pilgrims without a license faces a fine of SR100,000 and a jail sentence of up to two years. Any pilgrim who attempts to perform Haj without obtaining a necessary permit will be immediately deported and denied entry to the Kingdom for 10 years. Pilgrims or groups who do not depart the country on expiration of their visas will be subject to a fine of SR15,000 and immediate deportation upon their first offense. A second offense will incur a fine of SR25,000, a 3 month prison term and deportation effective immediately.
Should a third offense occur, a fine of SR50,000 will apply, along with a six-month jail sentence and deportation.
Individuals found to be assisting or covering for others who violate the regulations will be fined between SR15,000 and SR100,000, and will be subject to a prison sentence of up to six months.
Haj companies or institutions which fail to report to authorities information about any pilgrim who has not departed the country after their visa has expired could be fined between SR25,000 and SR100,000.
Companies or individuals that employ illegal pilgrims to work for them will also be fined between SR25,000 and SR100,000, and may be prevented from recruiting any worker for a period of five years. The director of these institutions will be sentenced to a prison term of one year.