International outcry for Canada to take back their illegal shipment

Geneva, Switzerland, May 13 – International environmental organisations, discontent with Canada’s refusal to re-export the 50 shipment containers filled with household and toxic wastes dumped in the Philippines two years ago, conducts demonstrations in front of Palais des Nations, Permanent Mission of Canada, and CICG (Centre International de Conférences Genève) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Environmental justice group Ban Toxics (BT) is joined by partner organisations Basel Action Network (BAN), International POPs Elimination Network (IPEN), Pesticide Action Network, and EarthJustice, in BT’s clamor for the Canadian government to comply to the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal, to which both the Philippines and Canada are parties to, and take back their illegal wastes.

“Unless Canada is compelled to take back its waste and prosecute its criminal traffic, a great injustice will have occurred on the watch of everyone in this room. We cannot allow that to happen,” said BT executive director Atty. Richard Gutierrez in a speech he delivered in front of the Conference of Parties of the Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions held in Geneva.

The Basel Convention prohibits illegal trade of toxic and other wastes, and requires the exporting country to take back the illegal shipment and pay the underlying costs but the Canadian government continues to dodge responsibility by saying that this is a “private matter” between the Canadian exporter, Chronic Inc., and its Filipino counterpart, Chronic Plastics.

“Diplomatic bullying has snuffed the Philippines’ resolve to enforce Basel. Thus, even if the Philippines is reluctant to take this matter of non-compliance to the Implementation and Compliance Committee, such non-compliance cannot simply be forgotten. Bilateral non-Compliance is not acceptable under the Convention,” Atty. Gutierrez reiterated in his delivered speech.

“The Basel Convention was originally convened to prevent poor countries from being victims of toxic trade and Canada’s incessant refusal to commit to protecting the environment and human health is shameful,” said BAN’s executive director Jim Puckett.

After his state visit to the United States and Canada, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III recently declared that the Canadian waste will be dealt with in the Philippines through cement kiln incineration and landfill disposal despite claiming the wastes to be hazardous and toxic beforehand.

BT fears that disposing the Canadian waste in Philippine soil will not only set precedent for other rich countries’ to dump their waste in the country but expose the surrounding communities to the toxic fumes emitted through cement kilns and hazardous leachates from landfill disposals.  (Greenpeace / Mindanao Post)

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