Kano Sharia Court’s Sentencing Of 13-Year-Old Omar Farouq To 10 Years Imprisonment Violates ‘Rights Of The Child’ – UNICEF

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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has faulted 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, saying it violates the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child which Nigeria ratified in 2001.

The sentence was handed down after Farouq was convicted of blasphemy on 10 August 2020.

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria said that the sentence negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and by implication, Kano State signed on to.

“The sentencing of this child -13-year-old Omar Farouk – to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong”.

“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 sentence according to UNICEF, 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 while expressing appreciation of the strides recently made by the Kano State Government to pass the Kano State Child Protection Bill, called on the Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to urgently review the case with a view to reversing the sentence.

“UNICEF will continue to provide support for 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”.

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.

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