finance & economy

Waste import scandal: countdown for re-export started (Green Tunisia)

December 13, 2020

TAP)- The countdown started for waste re-export to Italy, said Green Tunisia - a network of environmental NGOs. It also denounced the silence of Tunisian authorities.

The waste import scandal was uncovered more than one month ago by an investigative programme broadcast on a private Tunisian TV channel.

A Tunisian company based in Sousse imports each year almost 120,000 tons of waste and receives €48/ton of imported waste. The investigative programme also disclosed that imported waste include hospital waste.

Under Article 8 of the Basel Convention, Green Tunisia said on Thursday, the waste re-export deadline is of 90 days from the day when the concerned State notified the exporting party and the Secretariat. '

Tunisia officially notified Italy

Tunisia officially notified Italy through the Basel Convention focal point established at the Environment and Local Affairs Ministry since October 23, Green Tunisia further said.

Tunisia 'is now over halfway towards the deadline set by the Convention to avoid facing the tedious arbitration procedure.' The network is also wondering about those who would make the most of this delay.

The public prosecutor in Sousse initiated a judicial investigation in the waste import by Tunisian company SOREPLAST. Green Tunisia also lodged a complaint with the Counter-Terrorism Judicial Pole.

Tunisian customs said over 70 containers carrying waste imported by the company 'were sealed' pending the re-export decision, in addition to 212 containers which are kept at the port of Sousse. Meanwhile, several videos circulating on social networks showed containers were opened and taken out of the port.

Tunisians' rights to health and healthy environment violated

Green Tunisia issued a press release on December 10 as countries around the world are observing Human Rights Day. It expressed astonishment at the way the case 'was swept under the rug,' despite the serious hazards for Tunisian population.

The network also wondered about the fate of thousands of tons of Italian waste on the Tunisian soil for eight months now and said the rights of Tunisians to health and a healthy environment are violated.

The Head of State, the Prime Minister and the ministers of environment and foreign affairs are urged to send back urgently this waste brought illegally to Tunisia and work in concert to better handle this case.

Tunisian authorities only dismissed the Director-General of the National Agency of Waste Management (French: ANGED) and started an administrative inquiry. as well as a legal investigation against SOREPLAST.

The network had accused the Environment Ministry of 'environmental terrorism' and criticised 'a system plagued by corruption and manipulated by lobbies more powerful than the justice, the ministry and the State.'

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