The Ministry of Labor and Social Development, in collaboration with a number of concerned government departments including the Interior Ministry, are putting the final touches on a new law to combat begging which will punish those who make it a profession with imprisonment and fine.

Under the new law, anyone who asks for money directly or indirectly, sells trivial goods, fakes injuries or permanent disability or use children to influence others into giving him/her money will be considered a beggar, a report in Al-Madina newspaper said Monday.

The law said any Saudi or non-Saudi man or woman who is found to be asking for money in public areas, mosques, gas stations, public transport or shops will be considered a beggar and will be dealt with accordingly even if he or she is crippled and is unable to do any kind of work.

Under the new law, Saudi citizens who are caught begging for the first time will not be tried but will be made to sign a pledge never to beg again.

The ministry will study such cases with a view to helping them through providing them with social, health, psychological and economic assistance.

If a Saudi citizen makes begging a profession, he or she will be jailed for a year and fined SR100,000 or with the two punishments together while the expatriates will have the same punishment in addition to deportation even if they have regular iqamas (work permits).

The ministry will make a database of the beggars so as to identify them easily. It will establish a special fund to combat begging.

As many as 2,710 Saudi men and women beggars were caught last year by 13 offices to combat begging all over the Kingdom, a report quoting figures released by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development said.

The ministry said the beggars consisted of 570 men and 2,140 women.

Meanwhile, a social worker said a number of beggars would return to begging even after they were caught and made to sign pledges never to go back to the bad habit again.

Fouad Al-Mishaikhis said most of the beggars would go back to begging because the causes that forced them into begging in the first place were still there.

“The phenomenon needs a comprehensive treatment. The beggars should be closely followed up by the concerned authorities to provide them with their minimal needs,” he said.

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