The United Nations human rights investigator for Myanmar called on the ruling junta on Thursday to let him meet pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his third visit to the country next week.
Myanmar, once known as Burma, is preparing for its first elections in 20 years, the final step in a democratic "road map" it says will end almost half a century of unbroken army rule.
"I hope that my request to the government to meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi will be granted this time. It would be important for me to meet with political party leaders in the context of this year's landmark elections," Tomas Ojea Quintana said in a statement.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Suu Kyi is one of more than 2,100 political prisoners in Myanmar.
She has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years and was sentenced to a further 18 months of house arrest last August for harbouring an American who swam uninvited to her lakeside home.
The guilty verdict sparked an international outcry, and was dismissed by critics as a way of keeping her in detention for the elections, which many observers expect in October.
The approach of elections makes this year a critical time for the people of Myanmar, according to Ojea Quintana, U.N. special rapporteur on the human rights situation in Myanmar.
The Argentine lawyer and human rights expert, who has served in the independent post since May 2008, is making his third visit to Myanmar from Feb. 15-19 at government invitation. He was denied permission to visit Suu Kyi during previous visits.
Ojea Quintana plans to meet senior government officials and press his earlier recommendations, including the need to release political prisoners and revise domestic laws to comply with international human rights standards, the statement said.
He also plans to travel to Northern Rakhine state, home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group, to evaluate the human rights situation there.
He will report his findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council during its next regular session in Geneva in March.
ReutersLast Mod: 11 Şubat 2010, 18:56