A Bangladeshi man with asthma was not deported 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, according to The Guardian.
In a ruling believed to be the first of its kind in France, the appeals court in Bordeaux overturned an expulsion order against the 40-year-old man because he would face "a worsening of his respiratory pathology due to air pollution" in his country of origin, the report said.
"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 report quoted the unnamed man's lawyer, Ludovic Rivière. "It decided my client's life would be endangered by the air quality in Bangladesh."
According to the report, 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.
It also heard evidence that the man's father had died of an asthma attack at the age of 54, Rivière said, and that since arriving in France and beginning treatment, his respiratory capacity had increased from 58% in 2013 to 70% in 2018.
"For all these reasons, the court decided that sending my client back to his country would mean putting him at real risk of death," the lawyer said. "Respiratory failure as a result of an asthma attack would be almost inevitable."
The man arrived in France in 2011 after fleeing persecution in Bangladesh. He settled in Toulouse, found work as a waiter, and in 2015 was given a temporary residence permit as a foreign national requiring medical treatment, the report said.
In 2017, however, doctors advising the French immigration authorities recommended that his condition "could be adequately treated in Bangladesh", and two years later the local Haute-Garonne prefecture issued an expulsion order, it added.
A lower court in Toulouse overturned the deportation order in June last year, purely on the grounds that the relevant drugs were "not in fact available in the man's home country". The Bordeaux court went even further in rejecting the prefecture's appeal, saying that the environmental criterion must also be taken into account.
Dr Gary Fuller, an air pollution scientist at Imperial College London, said this was the first case he was aware of in which the environment had been cited by a court in an extradition hearing. "The court has effectively declared that the environment -- air pollution -- meant it was unsafe to send this man back," the reports quoted Fuller as saying.