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US agency kicks against Nigeria’s exclusion from religious freedom violators list

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THE United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has expressed outrage at the exclusion of Nigeria and India in the latest designations of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), by the US Department of State.

In its 2022 Annual Report in April, USCIRF recommended re-designation of the 10 CPC countries, and also recommended CPC designation for Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam.

USCIRF’s chair Nury Turkel said in a statement that there was no justification for turning a blind eye to both countries’ particularly severe religious freedom violations, which clearly meet the legal standards for designation as CPCs.

“USCIRF is tremendously disappointed that the Secretary of State did not implement our recommendations and recognize the severity of the religious freedom violations that both USCIRF and the State Department have documented in those countries,” Turkel said.

He added: “The State Department’s own reporting includes numerous examples of particularly severe religious freedom violations in Nigeria and India.”

Pursuant to IRFA, the State Department re-designated 10 countries as CPCs. The countries are: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

The State Department also added Cuba and Nicaragua to its CPC list, which had previously been on the Department’s Special Watch List (SWL).

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Since the issuance of its 2022 Annual Report, USCIRF said it has consistently shared its recommendations with the U.S. Department of State and Congress.

USCIRF’s recent publications include updated reports on Religious Freedom Conditions in IndiaBlasphemy Laws in NigeriaViolence and Religious Freedom in Nigeria, and held hearings on AfghanistanNigeria, and Nicaragua.

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