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A Bangladeshi man with asthma has avoided deportation from France after his lawyer
argued that he risked a severe deterioration in his condition, and possibly premature
death, due to the dangerous levels of pollution in his homeland.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time a French court has applied the environment as
one of its criteria in such a case,” the unnamed man’s lawyer, Ludovic Rivière, said.
Yale and Columbia universities’ Environmental Performance Index ranks Bangladesh
179th in the world for air quality in 2020, while the concentration of fine particles in the
air is six times the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum.
The court took into consideration the fact that the drugs the man is receiving in France
are not available in Bangladesh, and that the Bangladeshi health system can only
provide the night-time ventilation equipment he needs for his sleep apnoea in hospital.
Fuller said the case fed into a steadily growing broader agenda about the right to a
healthy environment. “There’s a UN rapporteur on this issue, and people around the
world – particularly in countries with less developed environmental and health laws –
who are developing thinking about declaring a right to a healthy environment.”
The recent case of Ella Kissi-Debrah, the nine-year-old London girl who died in
February 2013, could be seen as part of the same process.
A London coroner made legal history last month by ruling that air pollution was a cause
of Ella’s death, with acute respiratory failure and severe asthma.