Something that I have been following in the media for quite some time now is the story of Amanda Knox. I’m sure most of you know who she is, but for those of you who don’t, she has come under the public spotlight for being wrongly accused of murder while studying abroad in November of 2007. Knox, attended the University of Washington, and was studying in Perugia, Italy, while living in a flat with two Italians and one student from England, named Meredith Kercher.
After living together for nearly two months, things took a horrible turn when Knox returned home from a night with Raffaele Sollecito, who was her boyfriend at the time. Knox claims she first realized things were wrong when she came home to her flat to find the front door unlocked and small droplets of blood on the floor. After taking a shower and eating breakfast she called both of Kercher’s cell phones (one of them was from Italy the other from England) but she did not answer. Knox next noticed that Kercher’s bedroom door was locked and a window near her room was broken; she began to fear someone had entered the apartment. Knox then called the police, who after searching through the apartment and looking for evidence broke down Kercher’s door and discovered the young student had been stabbed to death.
Once it was clear that Kercher had been murdered, Italian authorities zeroed in on Knox as their main suspect and she was arrested five days later. It’s at this point that many questions regarding personal liberties and human rights come into play, because in my opinion Amanda Knox was not treated fairly and was taken advantage of by Italian authorities. The first breach of Knox’s rights comes when she was asked to come in for questioning. Knox immediately asked for a lawyer before she would speak to police, but was told she had no right to have a lawyer and that she would be thrown in prison if she would not speak. Additionally, Knox claims she was hit and verbally abused by police officers and was told that she would not be allowed to eat, drink, sleep or use the bathroom until she spoke. Although this sounds bad, things would get far worse for Knox, who was thrown in jail for nearly four years until her case finally went to trial. While she was imprisoned, she was mistakenly told that she had tested positive for HIV and was harassed by prison guards who routinely made unwanted sexual advances towards her.
Despite living through hell for nearly four years, Knox was finally found not guilty and allowed to return home to the United States. Also, an Italian Court of Cassation found that Knox’s human rights had been violated, because the police had not told her of her legal rights, appointed her a lawyer, or provided her an official interpreter Although justice was eventually served, this story brings about many important questions having to do with human rights. First, it seems very clear that Knox was wrongly accused from the very beginning of this case…don’t you think the United States government should have stepped in at some point and tried to help one of its citizens? Also, do you think that the Italian government should face some kind of penalty from the rest of the international community for horribly mistreating this woman, who’s life will never be the same?
To me, this is a clear case of a government trying to take advantage of a foreigner, who happened to be young and was clearly not capable of handling this situation on her own. Do you think that if Knox was a native Italian that she would have been treated so poorly? This makes me think that there should be an international judicial body that deals with serious crimes that a foreigner is accused of committing. What do you guys think about this story…. who is at fault for allowing this situation to get so horribly out of hand? What do you think governing bodies around the world can do to help avoid things like this from happening in the future? How would Locke, Rousseau and Hobbes feel about how the way Knox was treated and the lack of support she received from her native government?