China issues new rule to prevent mental illness abuse

Updated 2018-02-27 09:10:02

Procuratorates given more powers

China's top procuratorate recently issued a regulation to prevent and rectify abuses in the country's compulsory mental illness medical treatment system, a move hailed by Chinese law experts on Monday as a step toward judicial fairness.

The website of China's Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) on Monday said that the SPP has released a new document to deal with those who pretend to suffer from mental illness, and to avoid mistakenly applying the compulsory medical treatment system to mentally stable people.

To improve monitoring accuracy and the ability to quickly spot compulsory medical treatment-related cases, the document says that procuratorates have the right to meet with people suspected of having mental illness and those handling the cases.

If a person is found pretending to suffer from mental illness to evade legal sanctions, procuratorates should overrule compulsory medical treatment, the document said.

People's procuratorates should be responsible for monitoring the approval process for compulsory medical treatment.

"There were loopholes and problems in China's compulsory medical treatment system, as the system lacked supervision, making it difficult to resist," Xu Xin, a professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology's School of Law, told the Global Times on Monday.

"For example, once one is considered mentally ill, his or her opinion becomes worthless, let alone their rights," Xu said.

The document can improve the system by giving procuratorates a supervisory role, to protect the rights of the subjects of compulsory medical treatment decisions, and to push forward judicial fairness in China, according to Xu.

Article 284 of China's Criminal Procedure Law states that "a mentally ill person who has endangered public security or seriously endangered the safety of citizens by committing acts of violence, but who is not criminally liable upon expert evaluation according to statutory procedures, may be placed under compulsory medical treatment if he/she is likely to continue to pose a threat to society."

South China's Guangdong newspaper Xinxi Shibo reported in 2016 that the provincial procuratorates had handled 365 compulsory medical treatment cases.

According to the Central China's Hunan local rednet.com, the number of recipients of compulsory medical treatment in Hunan Province from January 2013 to June 2015 was 132.

The Ruzhou People's court in Henan ruled on March 17, 2015 that Fan Xiaonan, a mother who killed her son and injured her daughter in 2014, was suffering from schizophrenia and hence not criminally liable for the murder. Fan was ordered to undergo compulsory medical treatment, according to a notice of the Ruzhou court website.

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