In Response To Dramatically Increased Persecution of Christians, United States Adds Nigeria to List of Violators of Religious Freedom
We have long been advocating for the protection of Nigerian Christians who have been facing extreme persecution and violence at the hands of Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen. Now, the United States has officially designated Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) for its violations of religious freedom.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently announced the designation of Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. The purpose of this act is, among other things, “to strengthen United States advocacy on behalf of, individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of religion; . . . .” Nigeria now joins Burma, China, Eritrea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries that are “engaging in or tolerating ‘systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.’”
We have told you numerous horrific stories of persecution that Christians in Nigeria face on a daily basis. It was reported that more than 1,200 Nigerian Christians were killed at the hands of Boko Haram in the first half of 2020 alone. We have delivered numerous written submissions and oral interventions to the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) calling for immediate action to be taken to put an end to the senseless violence being carried out against Nigerian Christians. In our most recent report to the UNHRC, we stated:
Clearly, horrific acts of aggression are violating the peaceful lives of Christians in Nigeria. In order to prevent further loss of life, to end increasingly religiously motivated violence, and to address this massive humanitarian crisis, we must act now. Again, the U.N. Charter calls for the removal of threats to peace, and the Genocide Convention calls on the U.N. to prevent acts of genocide, not merely to respond to them. It is of utmost importance that meaningful action be taken immediately to put an end to the daily violence that Christians in Nigeria are facing. Repeatedly they cry out to their government and the international community for help, but no one responds.
Now, the United States has put Nigeria on notice and promises to continue to engage on this issue. As stated in the State Department press release:
And yet our work is far from complete. The United States will continue to work tirelessly to end religiously motivated abuses and persecution around the world, and to help ensure that each person, everywhere, at all times, has the right to live according to the dictates of conscience.
We are encouraged by this recent development but recognize that the fight is not over.
The ACLJ will continue to fight for Christians being persecuted in Nigeria and all around the world. It is critical that everyone is permitted to live out their Christian faith without fear of violence and persecution.