UAE: Up to Dh200,000 fine for violating rights of mental health patients

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi Filed on June 8, 2021
Wam file photo used for illustrative purposes

The Federal National Council has passed a draft law on mental health.

A draft UAE law regulating the care and treatment of mental health patients has been approved by the Federal National Council (FNC).

Unanimously passed by FNC members in a meeting on Tuesday, the law stipulates jail terms and penalties of up to Dh200,000 for individuals and families violating the rights of patients with mental illnesses.

The law penalises anyone who forges a medical report, with the intention of placing a person in a mental treatment facility or getting him/her out of the centre.

It also lists other penalties, including a jail term for a period not exceeding a year and a fine of up to Dh100,000, for people who will be found to have deliberately neglected or abused anyone with a mental illness.

A jail sentence of up to three months and a fine ranging from Dh50,000 to Dh100,000 shall also be meted out to anyone who maliciously takes an action to send a person to a mental health facility.

The draft law seeks to provide the necessary health care for patients and protect their rights and dignity. It is also aimed at fighting the social stigma attached to mental disorders and promoting the integration of patients back into society.

It covers all psychiatric patients, mental health facilities, and any other facility involved in providing mental healthcare, including the free zones.

One or more committees will be formed in each emirate to undertake the tasks of follow-ups on reports received from the mental health facilities; issuing the necessary approvals for the treatment of psychiatric patients who refuse treatment; and ensuring that the stipulated conditions are met.

Naema Abdullah Al Sharhan, second deputy chairman of the council and head of the FNC committee on Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, said the concept of mental health, according to the draft law, is a state of psychological and social stability, through which the individual can achieve his goals according to his personal capabilities, and to deal with life pressures and work, produce and contribute to society.

She explained that a licence from the health authority shall be required for facilities that seek to provide mental health services.

Articles of the draft law also include provisions related to the controls of mandatory external therapeutic care, in addition to indicating the incapacity of compulsory external therapeutic care, requesting treatment diversion and provisions related to the patient’s consent to compulsory admission, the consent of the psychiatric patient to voluntary admission and emergency treatment.

The draft will be presented to the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for approval before being enforced into a law.


Ismail Sebugwaawo

A professional journalist originating from Kampala, Uganda, Ismail is a happy father with strong attachment to family and great values for humanity. He has practiced journalism in UAE for the past 13 years, covering the country's parliament (FNC) and crimes, including Abu Dhabi Police, public prosecution and courts. He also reports about important issues in education, public health and the environment, with a keen interest in human interest stories. When out of reporting duties, he serves the Ugandan community in Abu Dhabi as he wants to see his countrymen happy. Exercising and reading are part of his free time.

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