US publishes list of “concerns” about religious freedom, removes Nigeria | The news

The United States removes Nigeria from a list of “countries of particular concern” regarding religious freedom, names 10 other countries.

The United States has removed Nigeria from a list of “countries of particular concern” regarding religious freedom, a day before US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrives there as part of an African tour, as it publishes names for 10 other countries.

Blinken announced the appointments as part of the U.S. State Department’s annual review of religious freedom violations in countries around the world, which is based on assessments made by the independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).

“Every year the Secretary of State has the responsibility to identify governments and non-governmental actors who, due to their violations of religious freedom, deserve an appointment under the International Religious Freedom Act,” Blinken said in a statement on Wednesday.

“I nominate Burma [Myanmar], People’s Republic of China, Eritrea, Iran, DPRK [North Korea], Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Special Care [CPC] for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, persistent and flagrant violations of religious freedom”.

The names do not necessarily come with specific or mandatory sanctions or other U.S. actions, although U.S. law states that the government must “take targeted responses to violations of religious freedom.”

In addition to the CPCs, the United States also put Algeria, the Comoros, Cuba and Nicaragua on a special watchlist, while appointing armed groups al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the Houthis, ISIL (ISIS), ISIS. -Great Sahara, ISIS West Africa, Jamaat Nasr al-Islam wal-Muslimin, and the Afghan Taliban as “particularly concerned entities”.

The U.S. State Department’s appointments are based on recommendations from the USCIRF, but the recommendations are not binding, and this year saw Nigeria, India, Syria and Vietnam escape from KPC designation despite a commission recommendation.

Several countries that were recommended for the special watch list, including Afghanistan, Turkey, Egypt, and Iraq were also not included in Blinken’s final name.

The U.S. secretary of state is scheduled to arrive in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, on Thursday, where he will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and deliver a speech on U.S. policy in Africa, the U.S. state. Department said.

In a statement, the USCIRF said it was “dismayed” by Blinken’s decision not to rename Nigeria CPC, despite it being appointed as such in 2020.

“While the State Department has taken steps forward on some names, USCIRF is particularly unhappy about Nigeria’s removal of its CPC name, where it was rightly placed last year, as well as the omission of India, Syria and Vietnam,” USCIRF said. President Nadine Maenza.

“We urge the State Department to reconsider its names based on facts presented in its own reporting.”

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