UNICEF today expressed profound concern at the sentence by the Kano State Sharia Court of Feli Hockey, Kano, in northern Nigeria, of 13-year-old Omar Farouq to ten years imprisonment for menial work.
The sentence was handed down on 10 August 2020, after he was accused of blasphemy.
"It's unfair to sentence this boy-13-year-old Omar Farouk-to 10 years in jail with menial labor," UNICEF representative Peter Hawkins said in Nigeria. "It also negates all the fundamental values of child welfare and child protection of which Nigeria-and Kano State, by definition-has signed up."
The sentence is in violation of the UN Convention on the Protection of the Child, ratified in 1991 by Nigeria. It is also a violation of the African Charter on the Rights and Protection of the Child-adopted by Nigeria in 2001-and the 2003 Nigerian Child Rights Act, which domesticates Nigeria's international commitments to secure the right to life, security and growth of children.
In order to remove the warrant, UNICEF urged the Nigerian Government and the Kano State Government to immediately revisit the situation.
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,” said Peter Hawkins.
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.
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.