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Dhaka Tribune

Riyadh blacklists 31 hajj agencies for trafficking

Update : 30 Apr 2013, 07:24 AM

The Saudi Embassy in Dhaka has banned 31 Bangladeshi agencies for trafficking people in the guise of sending hajj pilgrims last year.

In a letter to the foreign ministry on Sunday, the embassy expressed its dissatisfaction with the situation and requested the government to take necessary action. Attached to the letter was a list of blacklisted agencies from Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.

A foreign ministry official told the Dhaka Tribune that such incidents “affect bilateral relationship” and should not have happened.

The Saudi Embassy letter read: “The embassy will not accept from these agencies any pilgrim and their proprietors will not be given entry visa for the purpose of making contract for accommodation and transportation of the pilgrims.”

These 31 agencies sent 9,571 people as hajj pilgrims in 2012 but only 3,624 of them came back.

Allegations of human trafficking were raised against a total of 292 hajj agencies in 2012.

A probe committee investigated the allegations and subsequently, the government fined and cancelled the licences of 11 agencies.

Religious Affairs Secretary Kazi Habibul Awal at a press briefing recently said that the ministry concerned would file criminal cases against the owners of five of the 11 agencies, under the Emigration Act and the Human Trafficking Control Act.

In addition, 144 hajj agencies, including the 11, will be fined Tk100,000-Tk1m for their alleged involvement in trafficking and a further licenses of a further five will be put on hold.

Awal added that the government had made the decision to control human trafficking in the name of hajj.



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