The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has called on the Kano state government to urgently reverse the sentencing of Umar Farouq, a 13-year-old boy, to 10 years in prison for blasphemy.
In a statement, Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, said the sentence contradicts the United Nations convention on the rights of the child, which Nigeria ratified in 1991.
A Sharia court in Kano convicted Farouq after he was accused of using “disparaging language on Allah” during a disagreement with his friend.
Farouq was sentenced by Aliyu Kanu, the same judge who passed a death sentence on Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, a musician, “for blasphemy”.
Hawkins condemned the sentence of Farouk, saying it undermines child rights principles.
“The sentencing of this child –13-year-old Omar Farouk to 10 years in prison with menial labour is wrong,” he said in a statement.
“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.”