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Canada’s trash shipment, refusal to take back wastes are illegal — legal non-profit

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Canadaâs trash shipment, refusal to take back wastes are illegal â legal non-profit
In this file photo, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses journalists at the ASEAN media center in Pasay City, Philippines on Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017.
Philstar.com / Efigenio Christopher Toledo, File

MANILA, Philippines — Canada’s dumping of tons of garbage in the Philippines in 2013 and 2014 violated an international treaty and Ottawa’s inaction on the issue is illegal, a new legal opinion found.

The legal opinion, prepared by lawyers at the Pacific Center for Environmental Law and Litigation, was sent to reporters Wednesday by EcoWaste Coalition. CELL is a non-profit society based in British Columbia, Canada.

The legal opinion said there is a “strong argument that Canada violated the Basel Convention” when it shipped 103 container vans of wastes to the Philippines. The shipments—falsely declared containing homogenous plastic scrap material—actually contained heterogenous waste such as household trash, used adult diapers and electronic waste.

The Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and Their Disposal prohibits the exports of wastes that are falsely-labeled.

“The Basel Convention applies to the shipments of wastes in question because the contents of the container vans were wastes deemed to be hazardous under Philippine law and therefore are 'hazardous wastes' within the means of the Basel Convention, or in any case were household wastes within the meaning of ‘other wastes’ under the Basel Convention,” the opinion read.

The legal opinion also noted that Canada failed to discharge its obligation under Article 9 of the Basel Convention. The article states that “the state of export shall ensure that the wastes in question are taken back by the exporter or the generator or, if necessary, by itself into the state of export.”

The Basel Convention also requires a country that has exported illegal wastes to take back the garbage within 30 days. But the Canadian government has for five years failed to take action on the long-standing issue despite requests from Philippine authorities.

It added that Canada violated the provision which forbid the transfer of obligation to properly manage hazardous or other wastes and that the country failed to impose criminal liability for illegal traffic in household wastes.

Canada's trash dumping a 'moral issue'

Environmental groups all over the world sent the legal opinion and a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, challenging his government to stop violating the Basel Convention and take back the garbage.

“We respectfully request the Canadian government to act on this legal opinion and its Basel Convention obligations and provide a clear and definite date by which it will repatriate its garbage so that this protracted ordeal can finally be promptly ended,” groups said.

They added: “Canada should meet the standards set by the Republic of Korea which has acted to promptly arrange the return of its wastes illegally dumped in the Philippines, citing convention obligations.”

The first batch of garbage illegally brought into the Philippines finally arrived in South Korea last February 4—around seven months after the waste shipments arrived at a port in Mindanao.

Trudeau said during the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila that his country is committed to solving the garbage dumping issue.

But two years later after his statement, the Canadian garbage is still languishing in the Philippine soil.

The environmental groups, moreover, said that the matter is a “moral issue that demonstrates Canada’s level of respect for the citizens of developing countries and how the nation demonstrates proper conduct.”

“Leaving Canada’s garbage in another country for five years reveals values that clash with moral responsibility,” they said.

The groups earlier sent letters to Trudeau but the government has not responded.

CANADA

JUSTIN TRUDEAU

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