The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom has faulted the removal of Nigeria from the list of “Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in a statement on Wednesday, blacklisted Russia, China and eight other countries as religious violators, leaving out Nigeria which was placed on the same list in 2020.
The development comes amid Blinken’s visit to Kenya and his scheduled visit to Nigeria this week.
The USCIRF, which described itself as “an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on religious freedom abroad”, said it “finds it unexplainable that the U.S. Department of State did not redesignate Nigeria as a ‘Country of Particular Concern’ and treated it as a country with no severe religious freedom violations.”
‘Redesignate Nigeria as religious violator’
In a statement on Wednesday titled, ‘USCIRF Appalled at Administration’s Removal of Nigeria from List of Violators of Religious Freedom’, USCIRF Chair, Nadine Maenza, expressed disappointment over the development, urging the Secretary of State to reconsider its decision.
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“USCIRF is disappointed that the State Department did not adopt our recommendations in designating the countries that are the worst violators of religious freedom.
“While the State Department took steps forward on some designations, USCIRF is especially displeased with the removal of Nigeria from its CPC designation, where it was rightfully placed last year, as well as the omission of India, Syria, and Vietnam. We urge the State Department to reconsider its designations based on facts presented in its own reporting,” he said.