The United States of America, USA, has on Wednesday, removed Nigeria from its Special Watch List of religious violators,
The US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, made this known in a statement titled: ‘Religious Freedom Designations’.
Recall, that the US had in 2020, placed Nigeria and 6 other countries on its Special Watch List of counties that had engaged in or tolerated the severe violation of religious freedom.
The US Secretary of State, said in his statement: “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.
“The challenges to religious freedom in the world today, are structural, systemic, and deeply entrenched. They exist in every country. They demand sustained global commitment from all who are unwilling to accept hatred, intolerance, and persecution as the status quo. They require the international community’s urgent attention.
“We will continue to press all governments to remedy shortcomings in their Laws and practices, and to promote accountability for those responsible for abuses. The United States remains committed to working with governments, civil society organisations, and members of religious communities, to advance religious freedom around the world, and address the plight of individuals and communities facing abuse, harassment, and discrimination, on account of what they believe, or what they do not believe.”
Blinken, who is currently in Kenya, on an official visit, is scheduled to visit Nigeria, later this week, and meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, and other members of his cabinet.
More news later…