HRW researcher Nadia Hardman said “Saudi officials are killing hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers in this remote border area out of view of the rest of the world,” according to a statement.
“Spending billions buying up professional golf, football clubs, and major entertainment events to improve the Saudi image should not deflect attention from these horrendous crimes,” she said.
The United States on Monday voiced alarm over the report and urged a full investigation.
“We have raised our concerns about these allegations with the Saudi government,” a State Department spokesperson said.”We urge the Saudi authorities to undertake a thorough and transparent investigation and also to meet their obligations under international law.”
The HRW report said there was no response to letters it sent to Saudi officials.
But the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen alleged “deliberate killings of immigrants and Yemenis” by border guards, in response to a letter from HRW.
According to the rights group, migrants said Houthi forces worked with people smugglers and would “extort” them or keep them in detention centres where they were “abused” until they could pay an “exit fee”.
The Houthis denied working with people smugglers, describing them as “criminals”.
In 2015, Saudi officials mobilised a military coalition in an effort to stop the advance of the Iran-backed Houthis, who had seized the Yemeni capital Sanaa from the internationally recognised government the previous year.
Yemen’s war has created what the UN describes as one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions dependent on aid.
Oil from “FSO Safer” supertanker decaying off Yemen’s coast finally being pumped onto another ship
Many of the abuses described by HRW would have occurred during a truce that took effect in April 2022 and has largely held despite officially expiring last October.
The HRW report draws from interviews with 38 Ethiopian migrants who tried to cross into Saudi Arabia from Yemen, as well as from satellite imagery, videos and photos posted to social media “or gathered from other sources”.
Interviewees described 28 “explosive weapons incidents” including attacks by mortar projectiles, the report said.
Some survivors described attacks at close range, with Saudi border guards asking Ethiopians “in which limb of their body they would prefer to be shot”, the report said.
“All interviewees described scenes of horror: women, men, and children strewn across the mountainous landscape severely injured, dismembered, or already dead,” it said.
Other accounts described forced rape and beatings with rocks and iron bars.
HRW called on Riyadh to end any policy of using lethal force on migrants and asylum seekers, and urged the UN to investigate the alleged killings