Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Human Rights, Procedural Protections and the Social Construction of Mental Illness: Involuntary Civil Commitment under China’s New Mental Health Law
Contributor(s): Charlton, Guy  (author)orcid ; Gao, Xiang  (author)orcid 
Publication Date: 2014-01-01
Handle Link:
Fields of Research (FoR) 2020: 440807 Government and politics of Asia and the Pacific
480301 Asian and Pacific law
Socio-Economic Objective (SEO) 2020: 230299 Government and politics not elsewhere classified
230499 Justice and the law not elsewhere classified

China has been criticised by human rights organisations for its failure to provide sufficient safeguards for involuntary confinement and discharge, involuntary experimental medical trials, and forced treatment of those with mental health problems. The legal shortcomings have become increasingly salient given the growing emphasis on the civil rights of mental health patients across the globe and China’s recent accession to Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In an effort to address these domestic problems and international responsibilities, China adopted its first National Mental Health Law in 2012. According to Xinhua state news agency the law seeks to 'curb abuses regarding compulsory mental health treatment and protect citizens from undergoing unnecessary treatment or illegal hospitalization’. The protracted 27 year discussion over funding, oversight responsibilities, admissions criteria, accreditation standards, and community mental health services, has led to a law which seeks to provide one national standard for the delivery and treatment of mental health services as well as standards and safeguards for involuntary commitment. This paper examines the provisions of the law as they relate to the definition of mental disorder and involuntary civil commitment. It argues that the new statute provides some safeguards to prevent unfair or abusive involuntary committal, as well as incorporating additional normative standards (based on international and domestic law) which should provide for additional measures to protect individuals who suffer from mental illness. However, the broad definition of mental illness in the Act could lead to involuntary committal. Likewise, there is a lack of extra-medical or due process safeguards that could enhance the ability of the system to maintain and protect personal dignity. Additional changes are therefore required to enable the Law to reach the standard required under the Chinese Constitution and the Convention.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Australian Journal of Asian Law, 15(1), p. 1-20
Publisher: Federation Press Pty Ltd
Place of Publication: Melbourne, Australia
ISSN: 1839-4191
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
Other Links:
Appears in Collections:Journal Article
School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences
School of Law

Files in This Item:
1 files
File SizeFormat 
Show full item record
Google Media

Google ScholarTM


Items in Research UNE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.