The United State authorities Friday said it has placed Nigeria on a Special Watch List for tolerating “severe violations of religious freedom.” Cuba and Nicaragua were also added to the list.
“No country, entity, or individual will be able to persecute people of faith with impunity,” United States’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo said. “These religious freedom designations show that when faith is attacked, we will act.”
The West African country may be designated Country of Particular Concern (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 if religious persecutions continue, the State Department said.
Although the State Department said in a statement that Nigeria is on the SWL list, a report published by the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom showed the country is already classified as a CPC.
USCIRF said “continued systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of freedom of religion or belief” in Nigeria should have earned the country a place on the official CPC list since 2009.
The US accused the Nigerian government of tolerating violence and discrimination based on religion or belief, and suppression of the freedom to manifest religion or belief.
It said religious sectarian violence increased in 2018, with Muslims and Christians attacked based on their religious and ethnic identity.
“The Nigerian federal government failed to implement effective strategies to prevent or stop such violence or to hold perpetrators accountable,” USCIRF said.