Compulsory Treatment in the Community in Hong Kong

Implications of the Current Law and Practice on the Rights of Persons with Mental Illnesses

Urania Chiu

This article examines the current legal framework and practice of the conditional discharge of mental health patients in Hong Kong under Section 42B of the Mental Health Ordinance from a human rights perspective. Using existing literature and findings from semi-structured qualitative interviews conducted with medical professionals, the author argues that the current regime lacks adequate safeguards for mental health patients, both in law and in actual practice, and suffers from the absence of a clear guiding purpose. As such, the law and practice of conditional discharge would most likely infringe patients’ fundamental rights to private and family life and to liberty and personal security. The article concludes with the suggestion that an evidence-based approach is required to determine the purpose of the regime and how it may be best designed for that end.