In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, the rights group’s deputy UN director, Akshaya Kumar, said the heir to the Saudi throne was behind abuses at home and bore responsibility “for the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in neighbouring Yemen.”
Kumar said Mohammed bin Salman’s reforms, such as allowing women to drive, opening up physical education to girls, and permitting movie theatres to open, were “important steps”, but warned against glossing over the prince’s record in other areas.
“The war in Yemen, and Prince Bin Salman’s prominent role in it as defence minister, fits poorly into a narrative of a visionary young reform-oriented leader,” she wrote.
“As restrictions on imports push millions of Yemenis further into famine and aid the spread of normally treatable diseases, Prince [Mohammed bin Salman] shouldn’t be getting a free pass.
“Instead, he and other senior coalition leaders should face international sanctions.”
shouldn’t be getting a free pass”]
The Saudi crown prince is widely seen as the architect of the country’s intervention in Yemen, which started in March 2015 after Houthi rebels took over large parts of the country’s south, sending Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi fleeing to exile in Riyadh.
Yemen’s capital Sanaa had fallen the previous year to a loose alliance of Houthi rebels and forces loyal to the country’s former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The alliance fell apart earlier this month with Saleh’s death at the hands of the Houthis after the late leader switched to the Saudi side and turned on the rebels.
Saudi-coalition led air raids have significantly contributed towards the war’s death toll of more than 10,000 fatalities.
Yemen’s civilian population has also suffered from a Saudi imposed blockade, which has deprived the country of essential goods.
The UN has warned that the blockade could result in famine and says it is already providing food assistance to over seven million people.