CASE UPDATE- Case against Imported Waste Containers CA/Writ/303/19

This writ application was filed by CEJ on the 22nd July 2019 against consignment of waste material which includes clinical waste, used cushions and mattress, plant parts, plastic waste and other uncategorized and hazardous which waste illegally imported into the country from the United Kingdom with the intention of disposing them within the country in the guise of importing permitted consignment of waste.

Several issues were raised in the petition including severe damage to environment, severe threats on the health of the general public of the country. Also, population will be exposed to several health risks due to the pathogens in the clinic or other waste found in the imported waste. This could also have negative impacts on the bio-diversity. Further, such alleged imports of waste have been done without adhering to the terms of the BASEL Convention. Specially, Sri Lanka doesn’t have facilities to manage such waste adhering to the international standards. Most important thing is this has violated the terms of National Environmental Act No.47 of 1980 and some articles of the Constitution of Sri Lanka.  

Therefore, CEJ requested to grant a writ of Mandamus to re-export these waste containers to the United Kingdom and prosecute the official employees of the Department of Customs and Central Environment Authority under the section 289 of Penal Code. A decree was issued to ban exportation of clinical waste containers until finalizing the inspections. Though the Medical Research Institute and Government Analyst were directed to examine the said consignments but they failed to comply with the Court orders.

The court issued an order on 02nd June 2020 so that parties had to enter into a formal agreement for sending the waste material back to its original country and the Central Environmental Authority liaised with the focal point of the country of export (the United Kingdom) in regards to the repatriation of these consignments as per the court order. Then, the Environment Agency in the United Kingdom also agreed to the repatriation of the waste.  On October 14, 2020 the Central Environmental Authority and the Sri Lanka Customs agreed to repatriate aforesaid waste containers back to the United Kingdom and to take necessary legal actions against all involved parties in illegal importations to the country. END]

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