Written by L Laura Kelly The Hillaura Kelly The Hill
The Trump administration for the first time on Monday designated Nigeria as a country of particular concern (CPC) for violations of religious freedom, one of 10 highlighted by the State Department for failing to stem the persecution and discrimination of faith groups.
Nigeria is the first democracy to be labeled a CPC for “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom, a designation that opens it up to economic sanctions.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the West African nation and nine others were being singled out “for engaging in or tolerating ‘systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.’ ”
“The United States will continue to work tirelessly to end religiously motivated abuses and persecution around the world, and to help ensure that each person, everywhere, at all times, has the right to live according to the dictates of conscience,” Pompeo said in a statement.
The designation was welcomed by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a bipartisan federal entity that has recommended Nigeria’s inclusion on the CPC list since 2009, including in its most recent report released in April.
“Religious freedom conditions in Nigeria remained poor in 2019, with both state- and societally perpetrated violations,” USCRIF wrote in its 2020 report, highlighting widespread security issues contributing to both Christian and Muslim populations being open to attacks of intercommunal and militia violence.
“The Nigerian government failed to effectively improve justice and security for its citizens, and was unsuccessful in addressing the immense need for accountability and reconciliation around past conflict,” it wrote.
The State Department renewed the CPC designations for Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.