Nigeria has been added to a “Special Watch List (SWL)” of countries that have engaged in or tolerated “extreme violations of religious freedom” by the United States authorities.
The West African Country was added to the SWL following the 2018 report of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) which really helpful designation of Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC).
Some of the instances cited within the USCIRF 2018 report embody violation of rights of Shi’a members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and violent clashes in Middle-Belt states.
The 2018 report partly reads;
“Religious freedom circumstances in Nigeria trended negatively in 2018. The Nigerian authorities on the nationwide and state ranges continued to tolerate violence and discrimination on the premise of faith or perception, and suppressed the liberty to manifest faith or perception.
“Religious sectarian violence elevated throughout the year, with Muslims and Christians attacked primarily based on their religious and ethnic id.
“The Nigerian army and authorities continued to violate the religious freedom and human rights of the Shi’a members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). IMN chief Sheikh Ibrahim Al Zak Zaky remained in detention.
“However, in 12 Muslim-majority northern Nigerian states, federalism has allowed the adoption of Islamic Shari’ah law in the criminal codes. The Nigerian constitution also establishes the roles of customary law and Shari’ah courts for Islamic personal law, family”.
Making announcement of Nigeria being added to the SWL, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo additionally disclosed that al-Nusra Front, al-Qa’ida within the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qa’ida, al-Shabab, Boko Haram, the Houthis, ISIS, ISIS-Khorasan, and the Taliban have been designated as Entities of Particular Concern.
“On December 18, 2019, the Department of State re-designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as Countries of Particular Concern underneath the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 for having engaged in or tolerated “systematic, ongoing, [and] egregious violations of religious freedom.
“The Department renewed the placement of Comoros, Russia, and Uzbekistan on a Special Watch List (SWL) for governments that have engaged in or tolerated “severe violations of religious freedom,” and added Cuba, Nicaragua, Nigeria, and Sudan to this listing.”