Chinese Activists Continue to Be ‘Mentally Illed’ in Spite of New Law

Radio Free Asia, 2013-11-14

Six months after a new health law took effect, Chinese psychiatric institutions are continuing to commit petitioners and rights activists to hospitals for “mental illness,” a rights group said on Thursday.

(In the picture a file photo of a patient at a psychiatric hospital in Fuzhou receiving a blood transfusion with bound feet.)

While some psychiatrists are refusing to admit “patients” who have no symptoms of mental illness, but who are regarded by the authorities as troublemakers, the main protections intended by the law against involuntary commitment are still being flouted, the overseas-based Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) group said in an emailed statement.

“Mental health doctors may succumb to pressure from local authorities by admitting such detainees,” it said.

China’s first Mental Health Law, which took effect on May 1, 2013, requires most psychiatric commitments to be voluntary, and made under the supervision of a qualified psychiatrist.

“However … local authorities continue to detain activists and petitioners in mental institutions,” CHRD said, adding that China’s ministry of health still requires local governments to commit 0.2 percent of the population to mental institutions with “severe mental illnesses.”…..(…)

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