Opposition Senator Leila de Lima, for the third time, filed a bill seeking to define and criminalize extrajudicial killings (EJKs) with tough penalties against government officials found guilty of abetting the crimes.

Senate Bill No. 1842 or the Anti-Extrajudicial Killings Act defines EJK as the unlawful or arbitrary killing by state agents or other individuals, including the ones perpetrated “under actual or apparent authority, or color of law, or upon the instruction of, or under the direction or control of, or by policy, order or behest of, the State.”

The proposed measure also specifies EJKs done with the “complicity, tolerance, connivance, acknowledgment, adoption, ratification or acquiescence” of the government.

The bill wants EJKs to cover killings that government agencies fail to conduct an effective investigation into, resulting in the degradation of human rights.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) should work together to ensure that prosecutors and investigators assigned to look into alleged EJKs have the training and education on human rights, according to the proposal.

It also aims to make the officials “who allowed the act or abetted in the consummation of extrajudicial killing” be held liable as principals to the crime, particularly those whose position mandates them to stop or uncover the killings.

The latest government data show 5,856 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations. Local and international human rights groups say there have been thousands more EJKs since President Rodrigo Duterte launched his war on drugs and talked violence against drug users in his public pronouncements.

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