Blasphemy: UNICEF worries over imprisonment of 13-year-old child in Kano
Says sentence with menial Labour wrong
UN Convention on Rights of Child
By Chioma Obinna
The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on Wednesday expressed worry over the sentencing of 13-year-old Omar Farouq to 10 years’ imprisonment with menial labour by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano.
Reacting to the sentence handed down after the child was convicted of blasphemy on 10 August 2020, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said the sentencing of the child to 10 years in prison with menial labour was wrong.
According to him, “It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria – and by implication, Kano State – has signed on to.”
He argued that the sentence was in contravention of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991. It is also a violation of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child – which Nigeria ratified in 2001 – and Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival, and development.
UNICEF called on the Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence.
UNICEF expressed appreciation of the strides recently made by the Kano State Government to pass the Kano State Child Protection Bill.
Peter Hawkins said the case further underlines the urgent need to accelerate the enactment of the Kano State Child Protection Bill so as to ensure that all children under 18, including Omar Farouq are protected.
Also ensures that “all children in Kano are treated in accordance with child rights standards,” said.
He maintained that UNICEF will continue to provide support to the Nigerian Government and Kano State Government on child protection system strengthening, including justice sector reform, to ensure that states put in place child-sensitive measures to handle cases involving children.
“This includes adopting alternative measures, in line with international best practice, for the treatment of children alleged to have committed offenses that do not involve detention or deprivation of family care.
“The child rights organization stressed the Government’s international obligations to ensure child-sensitive judicial measures for children who are alleged to have committed any offense.
“This should include ensuring quality legal representation and full implementation of child justice principles – all of which are geared towards reform, rehabilitation and reintegration of the child with their family and community, “ Hawkins stated in the statement.
Written by Kartia Velino