Germany 'ended Saudi guards training' after 'massive human rights abuses' report

Germany 'ended Saudi guards training' after 'massive human rights abuses' report
There has been major fallout over a rights report alleging that Saudi border guards killed hundreds of Ethiopian migrants.
3 min read
04 September, 2023
German police trained Saudi border guards [Getty-file photo]

Germany has said it ended support to Saudi border guards after reports of "massive human rights abuses".

The country's federal police agency trained Saudi guards who have been accused of killing hundreds of Ethiopian migrants on the border with Yemen.

Berlin said that once human rights concerns were raised, this training ended.

"[We] discontinued after reports of possible massive human rights violations became known and, as a precaution, are no longer included in the current training programme [for Saudi security forces]," the Germany interior ministry said in a statement, according to The Guardian.

"At no point did any instruction or training by the federal police of the Saudi Arabian border guard take place in the border area between Saudi Arabia and Yemen."


It follows a report by Human Rights Watch which alleges Saudi border guards used machine guns and mortars to kill hundreds of Ethiopian migrants trying to enter the kingdom from Yemen.

It later emerged that Germany and the US had trained the border force, which has been engaged in a war with Houthi rebels who have made incursions into Saudi territory.

Germany's federal police trained the guards between 2009 and 2020, with a brief break following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

US military funding for border force training took place between 2015 - when Riyadh intervened in the Yemen war - and July 2023, according to a report from The Guardian.

The US State Department said in a statement to The Guardian regarding the claims: "[We are] not aware of any Saudi land border guards currently participating in [US government] training."

"As far as we know, no land border guards completed the [US military] provided training from 2015 to 2023 for Saudi border guards. This training focused on maritime security and coastguard operations."

The State Department said it had raised the concerns to the UN and urged Riyadh to conduct a thorough investigation into the claims.

Ethiopia has also announced that it will conduct a joint probe into the alleged killings with Saudi Arabia. Riyadh had initially rejected the report.

Human Rights Watch said it spoke to 38 Ethiopian migrants and four relatives of people who attempted to cross the border between March 2022 and June 2023, who said they saw Saudi guards shoot at migrants or launch explosives at groups.

The report said the group also analysed over 350 videos and photographs posted to social media or gathered from other sources filmed between 12 May 2021 and 18 July 2023. It also examined several hundred square kilometres (miles) of satellite imagery captured between February 2022 and July 2023.

Saudi Arabia intervened in the Yemen war in March 2015, six months after the Iran-backed Houthi rebels captured the capital Sanaa, forcing the government to flee south.

Riyadh has been accused of a number of rights abuses during the war, including the killing of civilians in air strikes.