VIETNAMESE inmates would be free to stage peaceful protests during the visit of a controversial US congressman who has been blamed for derailing the voluntary repatriation programme, the Correctional Services Department said yesterday. Republican Chris Smith who sponsored a bill for the resettlement of up to 20,000 boat people in the US, will arrive on Friday. Refugee Concern lawyer Pam Baker said Mr Smith had expressed a wish to visit the High Island detention centre and meet Refugee Co-ordinator Brian Bresnihan who, however, will still be out of town. About 2,000 boat people went on the rampage for eight hours at High Island in June in an attempt to prevent 94 people being removed for deportation. They refused to volunteer for repatriation in the wake of Mr Smith's proposal. Correctional Services Assistant Commissioner Bonnie Wong Yuk-man said she had not received any detailed arrangements from the Security Branch. Ms Wong said Vietnamese inmates were free to stage protests or demonstrations if they were peaceful. A US Consulate spokesman said it was unsure which Vietnamese camps Mr Smith would be visiting. Ms Baker said: 'He's upset about the allegations that he has caused violence here. I believe he would like to check and make sure he has not done any harm.' She hoped to meet Mr Smith to express support for his proposal, which has been shelved following a heated debate in the Senate this month. The bill may be reintroduced next month. A spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said they did not know if they would meet Mr Smith.