Tuesday, December 7

BREAKING: US designates Boko Haram, others as ‘entities of particular concern’

…Delists Nigeria from 2021 religious violators’ list

The United States has on Wednesday removed Nigeria from its list of countries engaged in religious violations. While designating Boko Haram, ISIS, Taliban others as Entities of Particular Concern.

Russia, China and eight other countries were however blacklisted “as Countries of Particular Concern for having engaged in or tolerated ‘systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”

This was made known by the U.S Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in a statement titled, ‘Religious Freedom Designations’.

The U.S had placed Nigeria and six other countries on its special watch list of states that had engaged in or tolerated the severe violation of religious freedom in 2020, but Nigeria was however missing from the list of countries designated in the 2021 list for religious violations.

The U.S Secretary of States is currently in Kenya on an official visit, and is scheduled to visit Nigeria this week to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, and other members of his cabinet.

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In his statement on Wednesday, Blinken said, “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.” 

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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 organizations, 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.”

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