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UN Rights Council Must Act on Rights Crises in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Bahrain'

HRW Oral Statement - Item 4 General Debate - HRC54

Overview of the United Nations Human Rights Council is seen in Geneva, Switzerland June 6, 2017. © 2017 Reuters

Mr. President,

Recently, Human Rights Watch published a sobering report finding that Saudi border guards have killed at least hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023. We have documented horrific abuses, including attacks with explosive weapons and targeted killings. We found that Saudi border guards shot migrants at close range, including many women and children, in a widespread and systematic pattern of attacks. 

Special Procedures mandate holders also addressed this issue in a communication to Saudi Arabia alleging widespread and systematic killings of migrants. In response, Saudi Arabia claimed to have “discovered no evidence or information to confirm or substantiate the allegations.”

Human Rights Watch calls on the Saudi Arabian government to immediately revoke any policy to use lethal force against migrants and to investigate and appropriately discipline or prosecute all security personnel responsible for these abuses. 

The Human Rights Council should take action to ensure the allegations are investigated by a UN body, in accordance with international standards, and that those responsible are held to account.

In Egypt, the  national dialogue  has had minimal impact on repressive policies. Despite the release of some political prisoners, thousands remain imprisoned and arbitrary arrests and abuses continue unabated. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the  Rab’a massacre. Ten years on, those responsible have been promoted and rewarded — and the survivors have been imprisoned or exiled.

Finally, we deplore the continued arbitrary detention, torture and inhumane treatment of political prisoners in Bahrain. We urge the authorities to immediately release those unjustly imprisoned, including prominent human rights defenders Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Abduljalil al-Singace, and to ensure humane conditions for all detainees.

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