The Obama administration says it is dropping the "enemy combatant" designation for inmates at the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba and that it will draw on international law for its detention policy.
The Justice Department said in legal filings Friday that it will no longer use the term as its basis for holding prisoners at the U.S. facility, in a break with the previous Bush Administration's anti-terror policy. Under the new rules, only those who provided "substantial" support to al-Qaida or the Taliban would be considered eligible for detention.
Despite the change, President Barack Obama still asserts the military's authority to hold the detainees. Most have been held without formal charges and the camp has long been the target of criticism from human rights groups and other governments.
Amnesty International responded to Friday's development by calling on the Obama administration to bring its policies in line with U.S. obligations under domestic and international laws.
The Bush administration opened the Guantanamo camp in 2002 to house terrorism suspects, many of them detained in the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named a senior U.S. diplomat to help expedite President Obama's order to close Guantanamo within a year. Officials said Daniel Fried, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, will work to facilitate the transfer of detainees out of the U.S. military prison.
Hundreds of the camps' original detainees have been repatriated or otherwise re-settled but it still houses about 240 inmates.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.