In a chilling and brazen attack on the morning of May 5th, 2023, a lone gunman ruthlessly murdered Phoebe Auma, a respected senior clerk at the Migori courts in Kenya. The cold-blooded act has left the judiciary community shaken and fearful for their own safety.
Derrick Kuto, President of the Kenya Magistrates and Judges Association (KMJA), urgently demanded a comprehensive investigation into the unsettling incident. Auma was confronted by the unknown attacker while commuting to work on a motorcycle taxi, known as a bodaboda, before being killed without mercy.
Kuto voiced his concern for the well-being of all judicial employees, stating, “if the clerks are being targeted, what about the judges and magistrates who hear cases.” He noted that the issue of rising insecurity has been previously addressed with top officials, including the Inspector General of Police, the Director of Criminal Investigations, the Judicial Service Commission, and the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC). However, the situation seems only to be worsening.
In an effort to tackle the problem head-on, Kuto announced that KMJA would seek a meeting with President William Ruto, as service delivery and justice for the people of Kenya are at risk. “Without proper security for our members, service delivery to Wanjiku (justice consumers) will be affected,” he emphasized.
The KMJA is deeply troubled by Auma’s tragic murder, with Kuto lamenting the judiciary’s loss and expressing grief over her “abrupt and untimely departure.” He highlighted the alarmingly precarious security situation for judges, magistrates, kadhis, and judicial staff, stating that their work exposes them to significant dangers.
Auma’s killing is “just the tip of the iceberg,” according to Kuto, who recounted numerous incidents resulting in the loss of officers’ lives, as well as those of their friends and family members. Some have even resigned out of fear for their safety. The assassination of Phoebe Auma is the latest in a series of violent incidents involving Kenya’s judiciary, including a 2017 carjacking of a former chief magistrate and the fatal shooting of the Deputy Chief Justice’s driver in the same year.
This shocking assassination serves as a stark reminder of the perils faced by those who work tirelessly to uphold justice in an increasingly insecure environment. As the nation mourns the loss of Phoebe Auma, the call for a thorough investigation and increased security measures for Kenya’s judiciary grows louder.