The US is abandoning its use of the term “enemy combatants” to describe terror suspects – ending a key policy of the Bush administration.
It is the latest shift on Guantanamo Bay by President Barack Obama, who has announced the camp is to be closed.
The decision to drop the term is deeply symbolic, correspondents say.
President George W Bush argued that his status as commander-in-chief allowed him to hold “enemy combatants” indefinitely and without trial.
Announcing the end of the term’s use, the Justice Department said suspects would in future be held according to legal standards set by the international laws of war.
Under the new definition, only those who provided “substantial” support to al-Qaeda or the Taleban will be considered detainable, officials said.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
By using the term “enemy combatants”, the Bush administration argued that they were not prisoners of war, the BBC’s Jonathan Beale in Washington says. International laws – like the Geneva Conventions – therefore did not automatically apply.