WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama would close the US "war on terror" detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba within a year, a draft executive order circulating Wednesday said.
"The detention facilities at Guantanamo for individuals covered by this order shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than one year from the date of this order," said the draft which was posted on the website of the American Civil Liberties Union.
But the draft says "lawful means" should be used to deal with dangerous detainees who cannot be transferred to other countries or tried in US courts.
Administration officials would not comment on the draft, which surfaced after Obama moved to suspend war crimes trials at Guantanamo for 120 days pending a review of detention policies and procedures at the off-shore prison.
It circulated among media before being posted on the Internet by the ACLU, which called it "the first ray of sunlight in what has been eight long years of darkness."
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has defended many detainees at Guantanamo, expressed disappointment, however, that the new president's draft order "gave his administration an entire year to sort out its plans."
"It only took days to put these men in Guantanamo, it shouldn't take a year to get them out," said CCR's executive director, Vincent Warren.
The draft said it would not be in US interests to close the prison without first determining "the appropriate dispositions" of the individuals detained there.
"The unusual circumstances associated with detentions at Guantanamo require a comprehensive interagency review," it said.
The attorney general would be charged with coordinating the review, but the secretaries of state, defense and other departments and agencies would participate, according to the draft.
It said a substantial number of the estimated 245 detainees at Guantanamo might be transferred to other countries but others may have to be prosecuted for offenses they have committed.
"It is in the interests of the United States to review whether and how any such individuals can and should be prosecuted," it said.
The draft order said the review should determine whether it is feasible to prosecute in US courts detainees who cannot be transferred or released from the prison at the US naval base.
To dispose of those who can neither be tried nor transferred or released, the government "shall select lawful means, consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice," the draft said.
It said no one should be held in any detention facility controlled by the United States in conditions that do not conform with Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
"The Secretary of Defense shall immediately undertake a review of the conditions of detention at Guantanamo to ensure full compliance with this directive," it said.
"Such review shall be completed within 30 days and any necessary corrections implemented immediately thereafter," it said.
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