Story from Kenneth AFOR, Lagos
The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF) has on Wednesday condemned the sentencing of a 13-year-old boy, Omar Farouq in Kano State, by a Sharia Court.
The organisation termed the action wrong and, therefore, urged the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently look into the case with a view of reversing the sentence.
This was conveyed in a statement by UNICEF’s County Representative, Peter Hawkins.
Farouq was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on the 10th of August for blasphemy with menial labour.
“UNICEF today expressed deep concern about the sentencing of 13-year-old Omar Farouq to ten years’ imprisonment with menial labour by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano, in northern Nigeria.
“The sentencing of 13-year-old Omar Farouq is wrong. It also negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria, and by implication Kano State has signed on to,” said Peter Hawkins.
“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.
“UNICEF expressed appreciation of the strides recently made by the Kano State Government to pass the Kano State Child Protection Bill,” Hawkins added.
“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,” said Peter Hawkins.
The organisation, however, reiterated its commitment to supporting the government on child protection system thereby requesting quality legal representation and full implementation of child justice principles by the government.
“UNICEF will continue to provide support 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.
“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 offence. 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,” it read,” stated Hawkins.