Blasphemy: UNICEF decries sentencing of 13-year-old boy in Kano —
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Blasphemy: UNICEF decries sentencing of 13-year-old boy in Kano

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Sentencing of a 13-year-old minor Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour by Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano, in northern Nigeria is wrong, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has said.
It also noted that the sentencing negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and by implication, Kano State has signed on to.
UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, in a statement in Abuja, expressed deep concern about the sentencing, adding that the sentence was handed down after the minor was convicted of blasphemy on August 10, 2020.
According to the statement, “The sentence is 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”.
While calling 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.
“This 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 – and that all children in Kano are treated in accordance with child rights standards.
“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 offences that do not involve detention or deprivation of family care,” Hawkins further said.
The child rights organisation stressed the government’s international obligations to ensure child-sensitive judicial measures for children who are alleged to have committed any offence.
UNICEF concluded that 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.

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