Girl claims plans to develop dirty coal deposits will exacerbate climate change and deprive future generations of the right to healthy life
In a landmark case, seven-year old Rabab Ali has sued the government for violating her rights, and the rights of her generation, to a healthy life.
“I want the government to give me and my friends a safe environment to grow up in. I want it to help me conserve it for future generations,” she told thethirdpole.net.
She and her father, who is also the environmental lawyer representing her in the Pakistan supreme court, were heartened when the Chief Justice overruled the rejection of her appeal by the apex court’s registrar, stating that minors can file a legal petition in the interest of public at large through an attorney.
“The fact that the higher court has established this right of a minor is a pioneering and landmark judgment in the country, setting a precedent for others to go to the lower courts,” said Ali Tauqeer Sheikh, Asia director of Climate & Development Knowledge Network (CDKN).
“It gives me much hope,” said her father, Qazi Ali Athar.
Ali is pleading that the exploitation of the particularly dirty lignite coal in Sindh province’s Tharparkar district will drastically increase Pakistan’s carbon dioxide emissions, polluting the air and be catastrophic for the future generations, as well as and contributing to global warming. The petition states that it “infringes” upon the constitutionally guaranteed “right to life” and the inalienable “fundamental rights” of young Ali and the future generations of Pakistan and violates the “Doctrine of Public Trust”, the principle that the government must preserve certain natural and cultural resources for public use.