CV NEWS FEED // The Biden administration has once more rejected calls from dozens of human rights groups to redesignate Nigeria on the U.S. State Department’s list of worst religious persecutors.
Despite continued Islamist violence against Christians in the country, the Biden administration has failed to reinstate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC) for the third year in a row.
Azerbaijan was the only new country admitted to the State Department’s list of worst offenders for 2023. The 12 other countries on the list are Burma, China, Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.
As CatholicVote previously reported, the most recent attacks took place in Plateau State, Nigeria over Christmas, leaving at least 150 Christians dead. Alliance Defending Freedom International (ADF International) has since reported the death toll has risen to over 200.
ADF International’s Legal Counsel for Global Religious Freedom Sean Nelson said in a statement: “We are disappointed and deeply concerned that the Biden Administration again has failed to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern for its egregious violations of religious freedom.”
“The United States should increase pressure on Nigeria for the blatant violations of religious freedom occurring in the country. More Christians are being killed in Nigeria for their faith than in all other countries combined,” Nelson continued:
The U.S. government should do everything within its power to support ending the persecution and bringing about the peaceful coexistence of faith communities in Nigeria.
Since it is clear that the State Department will not take significant action over the terrible religious freedom conditions in Nigeria, it is vital that Congress makes its voice heard.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) also stated that it was “appalled” at the Biden administration’s failure to designate Nigeria as a CPC.
According to a report from Real Clear Politics, the Biden administration “has previously attributed the slaughter of Christians in Nigeria not to religious persecution but to a conflict over resources exacerbated by climate change.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that “significant violations of religious freedom occur in countries that are not designated,” and did not provide an explanation as to why Nigeria was left off the list once again.
ADF International delivered a petition with over 32,800 signatories to the White House in November 2022 calling on the State Department to reinstate Nigeria as a CPC. The administration ignored the petition.
ADF noted in the petition that “in the months of January 2021 to March 2022 over 6,000 Christians were martyred in Nigeria, facing death by being shot, hacked to pieces, and burned alive.”
“If the persecution was intense enough for Nigeria in 2020 to be placed on the CPC list then, it makes no sense to leave them off the list now, as the situation has only grown worse,” the petition added.