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Press Release

UNICEF condemns flogging of Nigerian girl

Statement Attributable to UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy

The United Nations GeneraalAssembly
has postponed the Special Session
on Children

Tuesday, 23 January 2001: There are very few States, in any region of the world, across all religious lines, whose justice systems allow the flogging or lashing of children. As represented by the almost universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and by the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World

(2001-2010), there is now a global consensus to protect children from violence - and most especially to spare them from forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment such as flogging.


In this context, UNICEF condemns the decision to allow the public flogging of 17-year-old Bariya Ibrahim Magazu in the northern Nigerian State of Zamfara on Friday, as punishment for becoming pregnant outside of marriage.

Bariya, who cannot read or write, was apparently not aware of her right to appeal her sentence and was not provided with adequate legal counsel. Her case has provoked a torrent of criticism from within Nigeria and around the world - not only because the girl testified that her pregnancy resulted from rape, but because of the fundamental violation of human rights that flogging represents. Bariya was lashed with a cane 100 times on Friday.

Nigeria has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits the use of flogging as a punishment for children. The Convention, which was drafted taking due account of the importance of the traditions and cultural values of each people, emphasizes the dignity of the child and the right of the child to protection from abuse and violence.

Nigeria has undertaken the obligation to implement the principles of the CRC, and ensure that the nation's legal order conforms to its principles. UNICEF's position is clear - under no circumstances should countries use flogging, lashing, or any other type of violence as punishment for children. UNICEF calls on responsible authorities in Nigeria to investigate this incident and make the amendments to its domestic legal system necessary to guarantee that this incident is never repeated.

* * *

For further information, please contact:

Alfred Ironside, UNICEF Media, New York (212) 326-7261