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Over 32,800 Petitioners Call on U.S. Government to Add Nigeria Back on Religious Freedom Watchlist

  • The removal of Nigeria from the U.S. State Department’s “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) list has led to the worsening of religious freedom abuses in the country.
  • Petition calls on U.S. government to reinstate Nigeria—one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a Christianto upcoming State Department designation.

WASHINGTON DC (11 November 2022) – Today, a petition calling for the United States government to reinstate Nigeria as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) was delivered to the White House with 32,800 signatories.

Established by Revelation Media and Alliance Defending Freedom, the petition, addressed to President Biden, states: “Removing Nigeria from the CPC list has led to the emboldening of Islamic terrorists, radical militants, and other extremists who kill, torture, and abduct Christians, as well as Muslims who reject extremism. Adding Nigeria back to the CPC list will send a powerful message that the religious persecution taking place in Nigeria is unacceptable”. In the coming weeks, the State Department will release its yearly list of CPC designations.

“It is extremely important that the United States maintain pressure on Nigeria for the egregious human rights violations, including religious freedom abuses, occurring in the country. Removing Nigeria from the Country of Particular Concern list signaled an alarming disregard for the state of religious freedom in the country,” said Kelsey Zorzi, Director of Advocacy for Global Religious Freedom for ADF International.

Zorzi further stated: “The high level of support for this petition makes clear that there is a strong consensus for significant action to counter the religious freedom violations happening in Nigeria. More Christians are being killed in Nigeria for their faith than in all other countries combined, and the U.S. government should do everything within its power to support ending the persecution and bringing about the peaceful coexistence of faith communities to Nigeria”.

The worsening state of religious freedom in Nigeria

In calling for Nigeria to be reinstated as a CPC, petitioners urged that, “the killings must stop. The torture must stop. The least we can do as Americans is take a stand by acknowledging the very real evil taking place in Nigeria at this time. We cannot condone this violence by turning a blind eye any longer”.

As noted in the petition, 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. According to Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List on the global persecution of Christians, “4,650 Christians were killed in Nigeria between November 2020 and October 2021, higher than 3,530 deaths recorded in the previous year”.

The petition also highlights that Christians are facing increased rates of being abducted, with “2,500 Christians . . . abducted between November 2020 and October 2021 as against 900 abducted in the previous year”. As it notes, the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law (Intersociety) cites an even higher rate of abductions, finding that no fewer than 3,800 Christians were abducted in Nigeria in 2021 alone.

It concludes by stating: “If 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”.

Repeated efforts for justice

This follows repeated actions to call on the State Department to reinstate the designation. In September 2022, ADF International, together with a large and varied group of human rights organizations and experts, urged the Secretary of State to put Nigeria back on the CPC list.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has called the removal of Nigeria’s CPC designation by the State Department “appalling” and “inexplicable”. Furthermore, the USCIRF recommended the State Department place Nigeria on the CPC list in its most recent Annual Report.

ADF International supports critical cases of persecuted Christians in Nigeria, in addition to peacebuilding efforts in the country.

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