Nigerian placed on “Special Watch List” by US Govt for religious freedom violations



WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) praised the State Department’s announcement that it has named 10 “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs), including Nigeria for the first time, and placed four countries on its “Special Watch List” (SWL) for severe violations, pursuant to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA)

We are gratified that the State Department has named 10 countries as CPCs. We particularly welcome Nigeria’s designation for the first time as a CPC for tolerating egregious violations of religious freedom, which USCIRF had been recommending since 2009. Nigeria is the first secular democracy that has been named a CPC, which demonstrates that we must be vigilant that all forms of governments respect religious freedom,” said Chair Gayle Manchin.

We are encouraged to see that the designation this year also reflects significant advancements in religious freedom in Uzbekistan and Sudan, which were both removed from the SWL. While USCIRF recommended earlier in 2020 that these two countries stay on the SWL, it is undeniable the historic progress that has been made in these two countries. We hope that their progress encourages positive change in other places around the world,’ said Vice Chair Tony Perkins.

The countries the State Department designated as CPCs are Burma, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan, all of which, besides Nigeria, it had previously so designated. USCIRF recommended CPC designation for all 10 in its 2020 Annual Report and also recommended that India, Russia, Syria, and Vietnam also be designated as CPCs.  

The State Department again placed on its SWL Comoros, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Russia. USCIRF recommended in its 2020 Annual Report that Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Sudan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan also be placed on the SWL.

USCIRF also welcomed the designation for the first time of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as an Entity of Particular Concern (EPC), which are nonstate actors that engage in particularly severe violations of religious freedom pursuant to IRFA. USCIRF recommended the designation of HTS in its 2020 Annual Report.