European Rights Watch

European Human Rights Court Orders Italy to Pay Damages to Amanda Knox

By: Brianna Ferrante
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

STRASBOURG, France – The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Italy to pay $20,000 in damages to Amanda Knox, an American student studying abroad who spent four years in an Italian prison before being acquitted for the 2007 murder of her then-roommate, Meredith Kercher.


Amanda Knox during the the 2009 trial. Photo courtesy of AP News P.P Cito.

A seven-judge panel of the ECHR concluded Italy was at fault for failing to provide Knox a lawyer during the initial police interrogation beginning on November 1, 2007. The court specifically referenced Knox’s vulnerability at that time as a foreign young woman, very new to the country, and not fluent in the language.

Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were the initial suspects in the sexual assault and murder of Kercher, a London native who was placed as Knox’s roommate while also studying abroad in Perugia. The pair was convicted of sexual assault and murder in 2009, but Knox was convicted of an additional charge for the malicious accusation of Diya Lumumba- a local bar manager, for alleging his responsibility for Kercher’s murder. Knox retracted these statements shortly after, but police did not strike it from their records and the conviction still stands.

In her complaint to the ECHR, Knox alleged she was subjected to gross and inhumane treatment while in police custody, citing specific instances where she was slapped, deprived of sleep, food, and water, and was forced to speak at times under extreme psychological stress and pressure without an attorney present despite her requests.

Knox’s initial complaint during the trial was dismissed by the court as being unsubstantiated, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to prove the maltreatment she was alleging. The initial interrogation went on for 53 hours over a period of five days, without a lawyer, and solely in Italian.

Ivory Coast native Rudy Hermann Guede was later convicted for Kercher’s murder, after DNA linked him to the crime, and is serving a 16-year sentence. While Italy’s Court of Cassation overturned Sollecito and Knox’s convictions citing lack of evidence in May of 2015, Knox’s charge for malicious accusation remains and is the subject of a pending appeal.

The court held that Italy’s failure to provide either a lawyer or professional interpreter negatively affected the legal proceedings and accuracy of the information she was giving during the interrogation. The award was comprised of €10,400 in damages, and €8,000 for legal costs and related expenses, approximately $20,000.

Attorneys for Knox hopes this ruling will be persuasive in their appeal of the malicious accusation charge.

For more information, please visit:

NPR- Italy ordered to pay damages to Amanda Knox- January 24, 2019.

Daily Mail UK- European court awards Amanda Knox damages for having her rights violated in her murder trial- January 24, 2019.

POLITICO- Court orders Italy to pay damages to Amanda Knox- January 24, 2019.

European Court of Human Rights Judges that UK Surveillance Violates Freedoms

By: Katherine Hewitt
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

STRASBOURG, France – In the case of Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom, the Chamber voted that some parts of the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act of 2016 violated human rights.  This is the latest occurrence in a five-year challenge directed towards the UK’s surveillance policies.

European Court of Human Rights rules that UK policies towards surveillance violate right to privacy and expression.  Photo Courtesy of European PhotoPress Agency. 

Applicants lodged complaints about the bulk interception of communications, obtaining data from communication service providers, and intelligence sharing with foreign governments.  Advocates such as Big Brother Watch note, “Under the guise of counter-terrorism, the UK has adopted the most authoritarian surveillance regime of any Western state, corroding democracy itself and the rights of the British public.”

The Chamber found that the bulk interception strategy violated Article 8 of the Convention that states individuals have a right to a private life without interference by a public authority.  The judges deemed that there was not enough oversight on filtering who was selected for interception or what communication data was read.  It is important to note that the Court did not find the idea of a bulk interception regime a violation of human rights but rather the way in which the UK was handling the strategy.  Additionally, using communication service providers to obtain data was found as a violation of privacy.

Both of these aspects were also found to violate Article 10 as well, which protects freedom of expression.  The Court ruled that there are no safeguards in place for the protection of the data that is collected.

Intelligence sharing was not found to violate Article 8 or 10.

This case involved three joined applications: Big Brother Watch and Others v. the United Kingdom, Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Alice Ross v. the United Kingdom, and 10 Human Rights Organisations and Others v. the United Kingdom.  Those included were Amnesty International, American Civil Liberties Union, Bytes for All, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, the Legal Resources Centre (South Africa), Liberty and Privacy International, Open Rights Group, English PEN and Dr Constanze Kurz.

Of the case decision, activist Carolina Wilson Palow says, “Today’s judgment rightly criticises the UK’s bulk interception regime for giving far too much leeway to the intelligence agencies to choose who to spy on and when. It confirms that just because it is technically feasible to intercept all of our personal communications, it does not mean that it is lawful to do so.”

The Chambers decision is not final.  During the next three months either side has the opportunity to appeal the decision to the Grand Chamber of the Court.  There is the possibility of appeal as many activists believe that the decision did not go far enough in condemning bulk surveillance.

For more information please visit:

Amnesty International – Campaigners win vital battle against UK mass surveillance– 13 September 2018

European Court of Human Rights- Press Release: Some aspects of UK surveillance regimes violate Convention- 13 September 2018  (link to download press release)

European Court of Human Rights: Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms 

EURACTIV – UK guilty of human rights abuse, ECHR finds in groundbreaking surveillance case -14 September 2018