United States (US) has removed Nigeria from the list of countries “engaging in violation of religious freedom”.
Nigeria was removed from its list of religious violators, even as it blacklisted Russia, China and eight other countries “as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, made this known in a statement on Wednesday.
Blinken made the announcement ahead of his visit to Nigeria.
He added that the American government had blacklisted Russia, China and eight others as Countries of “Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
“The United States will not waiver in its commitment to advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all and in every country. In far too many places around the world, we continue to see governments harass, arrest, threaten, jail, and kill individuals simply for seeking to live their lives in accordance with their beliefs.”
“This Administration is committed to supporting every individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief, including by confronting and combating violators and abusers of this human right.
“Each year the Secretary of State has the responsibility to identify governments and non-state actors, who, because of their religious freedom violations, merit designation under the International Religious Freedom Act.
“I am designating Burma, the People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, the DPRK, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.
“I am also placing Algeria, Comoros, Cuba, and Nicaragua on a Special Watch List for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom.” “Finally, I am designating al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Greater Sahara, ISIS-West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Taliban as Entities of Particular Concern,”.
In December 2020, the US had listed Nigeria among countries blacklisted for violating religious freedom.