The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, Mr. Peter Hawkins, on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to reverse the conviction of a 13-year-old boy, Omar Farouq, for blasphemy.
The Kano State Sharia Court on August 18 sentenced the teenager to 10 years imprisonment for blasphemy.
Hawkins, who made the appeal in a statement, said the conviction of the teenager negated all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria, and by implication, Kano State had signed.
He said: “The sentencing of this child, 13-year-old Omar Farouk, to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong.
“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 the Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates Nigeria’s international obligations to protect children’s right to life, survival, and development.”
The UNICEF official also commended the Kano State government for passing the state’s Child Protection Bill.
He, however, called for an urgent need to accelerate the enactment of the bill so as to ensure that all children under 18, including Farouq, are protected.
He also urged the government to ensure that all children in Kano are treated in accordance with child rights standards.
“UNICEF will continue to provide support to the Federal and Kano State Governments 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 practices, for the treatment of children alleged to have committed offences that do not involve detention or deprivation of family care, ” Hawkins added.
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