Human Rights and Criminal Justice has been treated as diametrically opposed elements. On one hand, human rights have been understood to mean a bunch of sticks tied together for promotion, to be respected and fulfilled by the state, mostly, whereas on the other hand, criminal justice is a centre of scepticism and doomed for scrutiny throughout.
These ambitions are well-grounded in historical experiences and current unfolding of events. However, at the Human Rights and Criminal Justice Lab we believe that the two elements complement each other and should be understood as both state and citizens’ projects. The preconceived biases against the state and its culture as ‘Savage’ and the ‘helpless’, ‘powerless’ and ‘defenceless’ citizenry as ‘Victims’ purported by the Saviour—The Eurocentric universalism and Civilising Zeal is deeply questioned at the Lab.
We have adopted critical perspectives on human rights and criminal justice in Rwanda. At the lab we believe that the universality of human rights is not an exclusive expression of rationality, culture, norms and traditions from specific location or race, instead it is the ability to accommodate different ‘human right’s definition and performance appraisal from different peoples.
We therefore, while studying and researching on regulatory, institutional and implementation of human rights and criminal justice in Rwanda, are conscious of the ‘Savage, victims and saviors’ metaphor.