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UN rights experts want date for Guantanamo closure

Written by: Staff

GENEVA, July 6 (Reuters) Five U N human rights experts today urged the United States to set a date for closing the Guantanamo Bay detention centre where over 450 terrorism suspects are held.

The experts, who have repeatedly asked for the detention facility in Cuba to be shut, said they welcomed statements by Washington that it would like to close it and called for a detailed plan for how this would be done.

''We encourage the United States, in consultation with the international community, to develop a detailed plan of action, with timeframes, for the closure of Guantanamo Bay,'' they said in a statement.

The five envoys are: Leila Zerrougui, who reports on arbitrary detention, fellow Algerian Leandro Despouy, who covers the independence of judges, torture rapporteur Manfred Nowak of Austria, Pakistan's Asma Jahangir, who focuses on religious freedom and New Zealand's Paul Hunt, rapporteur for health.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that tribunals created by U S President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks to deal with terrorism suspects were illegal and violated the Geneva Conventions.

In a statement released in Geneva, the group said those detainees who Washington decided to prosecute should be transferred to the United States for a ''fair and expeditious trial, in accordance with international law''.

The others must be returned to their country of residence or citizenship, providing that they did not face there the risk of being tortured or subject to any other serious rights abuses.

It was not enough simply to get a so-called ''diplomatic assurance'' from the country concerned that they would not be mistreated, the experts added.

Reuters SHB DB2302

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