The government of Kano, Nigeria sentenced a 13-year-old boy, Omar Farouq to 10 years in prison for blasphemy while arguing with a friend. UNICEF is urging the Nigerian government to review the sentence.
Kano is one of the twelve states in Nigeria that follow the Sharia, or Islam-based, law. It also follows its own secular laws. Despite these secular laws, it is punishing a minor for blasphemy.
Boy sentenced to jail for blasphemy – against child rights
The case came to a Sharia court in Kano on August 10, along with another case of a studio assistant also committing blasphemy. The court sentenced the latter to death, and sentenced Omar Farouq, the 13-year-old, to 10 years of prison. A lawyer, Kola Alapinni, was actually working on the studio assistant’s case when he found out about the child. Somehow, the child’s case did not come into the spotlight earlier.
Farouq’s lawyer filed for an appeal on September 7. Meanwhile, Alapinni said that the punishment in fact violates the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of a Child and the constitution of Nigeria.
“Blasphemy is not recognised by Nigerian law. It is inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria,” he explained.
UNICEF appeals to Nigerian government
However, state authorities are not allowing Alapinni and other lawyers working on the case to meet Farouq. Peter Hawkins, UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria, stated that the Kano court ruled against child rights’ and child justice. Moreover, he is urging the government to enact the Kano State Protection Bill to avoid cases where children under 18 have protection and a certain standard of rights.
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