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Guardians' consent should not decide confinement at mental hospital: court

All News 15:24 September 29, 2016

SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- The country's Constitutional Court ruled Thursday it is unconstitutional to confine people in mental hospitals solely based on their legal guardians' decision and a psychiatrist's diagnosis.

Under the current Mental Health Act, a person can be sent to a mental hospital against their will if two of his or her legal guardians agree and a doctor recommends confinement.

The court's nine judges unanimously ruled that the law violates the Constitution, saying there is the possibility it could be abused, which could lead to infringement upon one's personal freedom.

"We cannot rule out the possibility that the legal guardians could abuse the system for their own interest, such as to avoid the duty of support or to obtain property," it said.

There should be a tool to guarantee objectivity and fairness in deciding on hospitalization, as well as a mechanism that would allow the person who can be confined to oppose to the decision, the court said.

Still, the law will remain effective until it is revised by lawmakers to avoid legal limbo.

Park Han-cheol (C, rear), chief justice of the Constitutional Court, and the court's justices are seated at the court in Seoul on Sept. 29, 2016. (Yonhap)


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