A judgment recognizes (without saying it) the status of climate refugee

A judgment recognizes (without saying it) the status of climate refugee

Violet Field inPlanetJan 8, 2021 4 min read0 views

In December, the Bordeaux administrative court of appeal refused the deportation of an undocumented Bengali living in Toulouse and suffering from a chronic respiratory disease, basing its decision on complaints.

Sheel lives 200 km from Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh which is also one of the most polluted cities in the world. - Sopa Images - Sipa
  • “Sheel”, a Bengali refugee living in Toulouse, obtained from administrative justice the right to stay in France.
  • The waiter suffers from a proven respiratory illness.
  • The Bordeaux Administrative Court of Appeal notably considered that a return to Bangladesh, one of the most polluted countries in the world, would worsen his case.
  • For the lawyer of "Sheel", no doubt, he is now a "climate refugee".

Could this be the first judgment of an administrative court of appeal which enshrines the status of climate refugee? "Yes, because indeed, I am not aware of another case where justice would have considered as is the case here, that sending a person who suffers from respiratory problems in one of the most polluted countries in the world, l 'would expose him to a risk of aggravation of his disease, or even to premature death,' relishes the lawyer from Toulouse, Ludovic Rivière.

Arrived in France in 2011 to flee persecution, Sheel *, forty years old, from a small town in Bangladesh 200 km north of the capital Dhaka, is now living in Toulouse where he works in a restaurant as that cook waiter. Since 2015, he has held a temporary residence permit as a sick foreigner.

Allergic asthma

And for good reason: he suffers from asthma allergic to dust mites and severe sleep apnea syndrome which requires the daily assistance of a breathing apparatus to sleep. Electrical equipment that must undergo rigorous maintenance, with a monthly replacement of the mask, filters, and hoses. Not to mention the heavy drug treatment that he must follow in parallel to the letter.

A health condition that did not prevent the Prefecture of Haute-Garonne from taking against it on June 18, 2019, an obligation to leave French territory (OQTF). For the administration, “he can benefit from appropriate treatment in his country of origin”.

It is not the opinion of his lawyer which is based on a detailed medical opinion: "the assumption of responsibility in his country of origin is not possible". And to recall that "the rate of fine particles suspended in the air, measured in Bangladesh, is among the highest in the world". As for the mortality rate linked to asthma, a pathology presented by Sheel, it is “12.92 per 100,000 inhabitants, against 0.82 in France”.

"Worsening of his pathology" in case of return from Bangladesh

On June 15, 2020, the Toulouse administrative court canceled the obligation to leave the territory, but without brandishing the criterion of air pollution as a criterion of danger. On the other hand, last December 18, the administrative court of appeal of Bordeaux, seized by the Prefect of Haute-Garonne, was much more categorical. For the court, sending Sheel back to his country of origin would lead to "an aggravation of his respiratory pathology due to air pollution". Without taking into account that he "would be confronted with the risks of interruption of a treatment less well adapted to his state of health and to dysfunctions of the respiratory system of which he has a vital need, because, on the one hand, difficulties in replacing parts, and on the other hand, power cuts during the night ”.

In other words, justice brought in the climatic criterion to assess the state of health risk in which a sick foreigner finds himself and that is a first ...

* The first name has been changed