Draft focuses on protecting property rights of mentally ill
Updated: 2012-10-24 01:18
By Zhao Yinan (China Daily)
A draft law that strengthens the protection of property rights for mental health patients was presented to lawmakers for its third review on Tuesday.
The proposed changes concerning property rights are a major step forward, analysts said, from the first two readings, in October last year and August.
The draft law, if passed, will affect about 100 million people with mental health problems, according to the National People's Congress Standing Committee.
Of these, about 16 million suffer serious mental disorders.
The draft is among several amendments under review as the committee began its four-day bimonthly session on Tuesday.
Hong Hu, deputy director of the NPC Law Committee, said the changes are to meet calls from lawmakers to protect the rights and interests of mentally ill people.
Previous proposals highlighted safety and dignity, although preventing infringements of property rights is equally important, he said.
Gong Xueping, a lawmaker in Shanghai, is among those who stressed the necessity of protecting property rights as part of the patient's civil rights.
Gong suggested improving procedures involved in determining the legal guardian of a mental health patient. This is to prevent, Gong said, any chance that those appointed may work against the interests and rights of the patient.
Huang Xuetao, a lawyer in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, suggested detailing the exact procedure of deciding guardianship, such as ensuring judicial involvement.
She also suggested appointing a temporary guardian when the patient is forced to receive institutional treatment, before a court can decide the civil capability of the patient, as well as ensuring that any appointed guardian will not infringe the patient's rights.
Mental health hospitals are often responsible, and answerable, to the person who sent the patient to them, Huang said.
In a case reported by Chinese-language newspaper Legal Daily, Zhu Jinhong claims she was sent by her mother to a hospital and was institutionalized in 2010 for three months in Nantong, Jiangsu province, because her mother was trying to seize her three apartments.
The mother, Tang Meilan, went to court to ask for the transfer of her daughter's properties, saying Zhu was ill and did not have the capacity to manage them, according to the report.
Zhu later sued her mother and Nantong No 4 People's Hospital for infringing her rights.
According to reports, a court heard the case in September 2011. However, there has been no news of a verdict.
Huang said institutionalized treatment for mental disorder is different from other illnesses as it can lead to possible deprival of a person's freedom and should be handled with extreme caution.
In addition, the draft requires general hospitals to set up mental health specialist outpatient clinics or to provide psychological counseling services, to promote awareness of mental health.
The number of hospital beds for every 10,000 people in China stands at 1.12, far below the world average of 4.3, according to the NPC.
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