updated 11/18/2005 5:01:28 AM ET 2005-11-18T10:01:28

U.N. rights experts said Friday they refused to accept an U.S. invitation to visit the military prison for terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay because U.S. restrictions would make it impossible to make a fair assessment of detainee conditions.

The experts, invited by the United States to visit Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, said they had to turn down the offer because U.S. officials refused to grant them the right to talk in private to the detainees.

"We deeply regret that the United States government did not accept the standard terms of reference for a credible, objective and fair assessment of the situation of the detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility," said the experts, who independently check on rights around the world.

"These terms include the ability to conduct private interviews with detainees," said a statement by five experts, whose mandates cover torture, freedom of religion, health, independent judiciary and arbitrary detention.

They said they found it "particularly disappointing that the United States government, which has consistently declared its commitment to the principles of independence and objectivity of the fact-finding mechanisms, was not in a position to accept these terms."

"Under the circumstances, we will not be traveling to Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, as doing so would undermine the principles" under which they seek to provide neutral, independent assessments of respect for human rights.

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