Unfair Treatment

October 25, 2011

Political action


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?

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12 Comments on “Unfair Treatment”

  1. jeanchaw Says:

    It is pretty obvious that Amanda Knox had her human rights violated by Italian police. The fact that she wasn’t even given an interpreter or lawyer and had been charged with murder is ridiculous. This should be a fear for everyone going abroad. I remember when I went abroad for the first time and my parents made me watch the movie Midnight Express. The movie is about a man who tries smuggling drugs out of Turkey and get caught and thrown in jail for ten years. I’m sure conditions were much different for the two but they were in similar situations. The fact is that the police found her as an easy scape goat and she was basically tortured for 4 years because of it. Getting back to normal life will not be easy for Knox because she will tormented by what happened to her.

  2. rpsafian Says:

    I have been following the Amanda Knox story for the past four years now and have recently been very interested in the human rights implications of her case. To answer your first question, I absolutely think that the United States government should have stepped in IMMEDIATELY after Amanda was arrested and questioned for murder. The US government should have both a legal and moral obligation to help out their own citizen in this case and should have sent lawyers to Italy right away to ensure Amanda’s safety. If this had happened, she probably wouldn’t be in all this mess 4 years after the ordeal and would be able to lead somewhat of a normal life back in the United States. I also believe that the Italian government should face penalties, both from the international community and from the Italian legal system as well. They should have to face repercussions from the UN for not taking the right steps in handling an international prisoner, and from their own system for infringing on the rights of a person who has not yet been convicted guilty in their own country. I believe that the Italian government was using this situation to exploit an innocent American citizen and that things would have been handled extremely differently had Knox been an Italian citizen.

    As a result of this case, I do believe that there should be some sort of international judicial body that oversees cases of international criminals and crimes that non-citizens commit in other countries. They should develop a way that the native country of the criminal, the country where the crime was committed, and this international body all come together to decide the fate of the accused individual. To avoid any future conflicts like this one, all members of the UN should submit to this judiciary committee as a way to level out the international legal system and to ensure that basic human and legal rights are not violated.

  3. Baihan Li Says:

    It’s very surprising to know things like this happened on American citizens. However, it is really hard for me to reach a conclusion with all the material presented in this post, as I never heard about it before. Rather than conclusion, in fact, I have several questions.

    First of all, why did the Italian government do this to Knox? I would not simply assume that the Italian government took advantage of a foreigner because it wanted to protect a criminal, who is apparently dangerous to the society. Therefore, further exploration might be needed: who is the victim’s boyfriend? Who was standing back of him?

    Meanwhile, why didn’t American government step in this issue? It’s apparently impossible that the government was unaware of this incident. Then, why nothing was done? Or, what is going on between America and Italy during that time? Do they have any connection?

    Last but not least, would w e still highlight the unwanted sex and verbal abuse, if this happened in America and Knox, just for assumption, is the killer? I am not saying that Knox deserve all of those injuries. In fact, it’s definitely unfair for her to experience all of those. However, I just want to point out that, we are all too often pay more attention to innocent victims with unfair experience and advocate compensation for it, while we sometimes assume it is reasonable that criminals, for whatever reason they are put into jail, deserve those abuses. While case like Knox is so rare, the abuse prevailing in the society, contrarily, seems to attract less attention than they deserve.

  4. finkelbr Says:

    I was unaware of this story prior to reading this blog post. First off, I am extremely dissapointed in not only the US but in the Italian authroities as well. As said in the above comment, the United States should have stepped in immediately. Americans pride themselves in being a “united” and free country and yet the second we step outside of our borders we suddenly lose all of this unity? It makes our government look awful that they decided not to back up their own citizen in such a serious matter.

    It is obvious to me that had Amanda been an italian she would not be treated this way. I agree with the fact that she was taken advantage of because she was clearly vulnerable and a foreign citizen. It seems that since she was a forgeiner she suddenly lost all of her rights. This unfair treatment needs to be dealt with and the Italian authorities should absultely be penalized. The idea of an international judicial body is a good one however, I dont think it will work out the way we think it may. If there were to be such a body I have to beleive that there would be multiple biasis in different directions. The numerous on going wars, alliances, broken alliances, and the underlying theme of money is power makes me beleive that countries would purposely vote for or against a citizen based on their nationality. Rather than a international judicial body, I beleive that the country whose citizen is on trial should be allowed to step in and take each step of the trial right by their citizens side. This way that citizen receives the support of their government, there are no international biasis, and the persecuting country can not break laws strictly since he/she is a foreginer. Stories like this prove that there truly are serious loopholes in international authority and treatment of foreign citizens.

  5. sbsmoler92692 Says:

    When I heard about the Amanda Knox case years ago, I was horrified. I could not imagine being taken advantage of to the degree that she had been, all the while by being overseas. I cannot mentally comprehend the horror and trauma that she had been through, needless to say the case hit home for me as I am a sophomore that plans to study abroad the 2nd semester of my junior year. This case provoked me to think about my rights as a United States citizen, and how in the country that I choose to study in, I should understand their legal system to the degrees in how I would be treated there, especially as an American college student and tourist. While I do feel that the United States Government should have stepped in, I also comprehend that it was not their place of authority to help regulate this situation. As the incident occurred in Italy, the case was under the Italian legal system, regardless of the fact that Amanda is a United States citizen. She must comply with the rules and legal system in which the case occurred. It is clear that she was simply in the wrong place, and the wrong time. This brings up issues within the Italian government system, of how to deal with situations such as these. While horrible, they should not be allowed to harass or treat people the way they do. This incident shed extreme light onto the situation and the inter-workings of the Italian government and how skewed it really is. This was also an international reality check, because it shed light and give other countries the opportunity to look into their government system, for instance, to prevent or dig up similar situations in which tourists and outsiders were treated unfairly.

  6. kristinamacek Says:

    I think that the way Amanda Knox was treated is absolutely atrocious. There is no reason that this should have ever happened. I believe that the US should have DEMANDED to see all the evidence involved in the case and reprocessed the evidence. They would have seen the issues with the case and known immediately that Knox was not HIV positive. I cannot believe that the Italian government would so publicly violate human rights. I think the Italian government should face legal and financial penalties for this heinous arrest and imprisonment. If I were Amanda, I would sue the Italian government for a large sum of money. I truly hope this young woman can get her life put back together soon.

  7. mzselig Says:

    So far as I can see, this is a clear violation of Amanda Knox’s human rights, there is no doubt about that. The real questions I see here are what warranted that violation of her rights and why there is no body that has the power to step in on the part of the person who is having their rights violated. I had been following this story on and off for the past years starting with the big story that came out stating that Amanda Knox had indeed killed her roommate while studying abroad. That kind of reporting, made worse by the fact that the Italian government and police force stood by their claims that Knox had killed her roommate, immediately causes problems with how the world views the problem. I know that I initially believed that she had killed her roommate because that was the information I was being fed by the media. After a couple years and countless violations of her rights by the Italian government and police force, it started coming out that there was a distinct possibility that she was in fact innocent.
    I still dont quite understand how the Italian government and police chiefs allowed the violations of Amanda Knox’s human rights to occur. They, so far as I know, abide by all international and national laws that ensure all people retain their human rights so there was a serious lapse in command in the case of Amanda Knox. When these cases do occur and the nation who is holding a prisoner does violate the rights of that prisoner, there needs to be an international body that specifically looks at cases in which there might be violations of human rights and, if there are indeed these kinds of violations, steps in on behalf of the international community and intervenes to stop these violations. If this body were to exist, Amanda Knox would have been out of prison years ago and would have been saved much of the pain, heartache, and unnecessary abuse she was subjected to while being held by the Italians.

  8. wjpetok24 Says:

    While Amanda Knox from the American perspective can be seen as a true victim, I am not shocked at the actions of the Italian police in their handling of this case. Frankly, Europe has a completely different set of moral principles and values, which correlate with their justice systems and approaches. This was a very serious issue for them, and the lack of diplomatic fairness they showed is a testament to how careful you have to be in an abroad situation, as “JeanChaw” mentioned in the first comment.

    Personally, I believe Knox’s rights to be violated given the direct violation of her rights and ‘torture’ in Italian prisons. In the letters recently published from Knox about her experience reveals how she fought to ‘suppress panic and desperation’ and without the support of her family back in the US, it was emotionally scarring. Nevertheless, I can not help but think Knox as a victim of circumstance. A wrong place, wrong time situation. Furthermore, the suffering she withstood in Italy since her initial incarceration in 2007 is a true display of the disparities between European and American justice systems.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/8853538/Amanda-Knox-says-her-time-in-Italian-jail-was-torture.html

  9. jonkeren Says:

    Amanda Knox’s human and civil rights were both clearly violated. She was forced into prison without a single piece of evidence against her. This young women’s life has been drastically changed forever and this horrific incidence will probably haunt her for the rest of her life. It is truly a shame how the italian government abused this poor girl and that the United States government did nothing about it. I find it absurd that the US government did not have the power to extradite her back to the United States.
    The way Knox was treated during her incarceration in Italy shows the major differences between the US justice system and the European one. Although Italy’s justice system does not tolerate the actions its government against Knox, these horrific actions were nevertheless still done to her. This would never occur in the United States. No citizen or foreigner would ever be treated the way Knox was. She was given absolutely no rights and was abused both physically and emotionally. In the end one can make the case that Amanda was in the wrong place at the wrong time and that the Italian government was trying to make an example out of this foreign girl. If this is so, it still did not give them the right to treat her the way they did and the international authorities should penalize the italian government in some way.

  10. springsteen1 Says:

    Several things are curious about this story, this crime, and subsequent trial in court. The aspect of this which carries perhaps the most weight with / for me is that the story has changed. And changed. And changed again, time and again. No one may be to blame here, but it is curious that since the offset, the prosecution, defense, witnesses, et al have changed stories numerous times. Below is a recap of a brief synopsis of the story believed to be true at the end of a malicious judicial game:

    The four year odyssey Amanda Knox has endured since her roommate Meredith Kercher was brutally murdered in what prosecutors called a “drug fueled sex game” is over.

    Although she was convicted along with her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and sentenced to 26 years in prison, an appeals jury assisted by two judges in Italy has acquitted Knox of the murder.

    A third person, Ivory Coast resident Rudy Guede, who was convicted separately is not affected by this decision.

    During the appeal an independent panel of forensic experts appointed by the court, analyzed the DNA which the prosecution relied upon to convict Knox, calling it “contaminated and unreliable.”

    Curiously, a video of crime scene technicians collecting the most damaging evidence is an example of how NOT to collect evidence. Technicians pick up the victim’s bra clasp six weeks after the crime and pass it on to each other then put it back down. When they hold the clasp up for the camera specs of dirt are clearly visible on the gloves.

    In addition, the evidence was not stored in accordance with internationally accepted standards. Some notes state that even accepted standards in Italy were taken with great liberties.

    Although the prosecution relied upon reports about Knox’s bizarre behavior (doing cartwheels and kissing her boyfriend) to make its case, along with inconsistent statements that put her at the murder scene while she implicated a man with a solid alibi, there was never a motive shown for the murder. Zero motive.

    In my opinion, Amanda Knox is innocent. This was either a few, or even several, stupid decisions by several attorneys, or her. Sorry to say this, but there is always at least a little bit of blame to go around. Further, anyone making claims (including myself based on the previous sentence) is acting on ignorance; none of us were there, none of us know exactly what happened – so there has to be at least some degree and measure of doubt given to her.

    • springsteen1 Says:

      Source: FNS story and stories in NY Times, LA Times, London Telegraph, and Washington Post, incluing 8-15-2011 op ed in NYT.

  11. masonbear Says:

    While the mistreatment and violation of Amanda Knox’s human rights Italian police partook in is terrible, I’m not sure this case uncovers a clear solution. My issue lies in the case itself and Knox’s actions. Coming home to find my door unlocked and blood on the ground I would not eat breakfast and shower before looking around the house. Amanda Knox’s odd response to a potentially dangerous situation is puzzling and why she was the primary suspect is no surprise. The Italian police were within their limits to question her, but detaining a suspect without cause is illegal in the United States, and a grey area for an American citizen in a foreign country. The acts that followed were outright wrong.

    The question of whether the Italian government should face a penalty brings up even more questions. Who will determine what the penalty is? Who will the penalty be paid to? How do you put a price on four years of life? Many of these questions cannot, or will not, be answered and thus a different approach can be taken. In my eyes, and I assume Amanda Knox would feel the same way, the most fair penalty is really no penalty at all. It is simply firing those responsible for the mistreatment of Knox, and putting programs in place to make sure the mistreatment prisoners does not continue. The best penalty for mistreatment is fair treatment.

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