Blasphemy: UNICEF condemns conviction of Omar Farouq —

Blasphemy: UNICEF condemns conviction of Omar Farouq

UNICEF

By Doosur Iwambe

Calls on FG, Kano State to urgently review judgment

The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), has kicked against the judgment a Sharia court in Kano that ordered the conviction of a 13-year old boy identified as Omar Farouq to ten years imprisonment over alleged blasphemy.

UNICEF in a statement made available to the Daily Times quoted its Representative to Nigeria, Peter Hawkins as saying that the action of the court was wrong.

While calling for the immediate review of the judgment, the UN body said that the action negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and by implication, Kano State has signed on to “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 statement read: “The sentencing of this child 13-year-old Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour 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.

’’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 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.

“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 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 does not involve detention or deprivation of family care.

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“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’’, the statement added.

It could be recalled that Farouq was sentenced with menial labour by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey, Kano State after he was convicted of blasphemy on 10 August 2020.

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