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Blasphemy: UNICEF condemns imprisonment of 13-year-old boy

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From Ogochukwu Anioke, Abakaliki

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has condemned and sought the immediate reversal of 10-year imprisonment with “menial labour” slammed on a 13-year-old boy, Omar Farouq, by the Kano State government.

Farouq was sentenced by the Kano State Sharia Court at Feli Hockey in Kano city, after he was found guilty and convicted for blasphemy on August 10, 2020.

Expressing concerns over the sentencing, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Peter Hawkins, said it was not only wrong but “negates all core underlying principles of child rights and child justice that Nigeria and, by implication, Kano State, has signed on to”.

The global agency’s chief said the sentence was in contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.

The sentence, he stressed, also violates the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which Nigeria ratified in 2001, as well as Nigeria’s Child Rights Act 2003, which domesticates the country’s international obligations to protect children’s rights to life, survival and development.

“This case further underlines the urgent need to accelerate the enactment of the Kano State Child Protection Bill 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,” Hawkins added.

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