Sri Lanka accused of stage-managing UN rights mission

Oct 8, 2007 (AFP) - The head of a prominent Sri Lankan human rights group on Monday accused the island's government of seeking to "stage-manage" a visit by a top United Nations official.
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Minority Tamil legislator Mano Ganeshan said Colombo was tightly controlling the five-day visit of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, who is due here Tuesday.

"They want to give her a guided-tour and meet people who will say the right things," said Ganeshan, adding that authorities were out to "stage-manage" the entire visit.

Ganeshan heads the Colombo-based Civil Monitoring Commission, which investigates extra-judicial killings and disappearances.

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He said he had nevertheless been able to arrange for the families of victims to meet with Arbour.

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Sri Lankan authorities had last week announced that Arbour would not be allowed to travel to the Tamil Tiger-held north, citing security reasons as well as the fear that the rebels would use a visit for propaganda purposes.

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"Visiting foreign dignitaries are free to travel to other parts of the country to get a first-hand idea of what's happening on the ground," Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe said.

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