Dhaka, Monday, April 23, 2018

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Cabinet suggests harsh actions against abusing mental patients

DHAKA, Jan 3, 2018 (BSS) - The cabinet today approved the proposed National Mental Health Act-2017 to replace a 105-year old lunacy law with the draft suggesting stern punitive actions against provoking mental patients to commit crimes and running unlicensed facilities for lunatics.

The cabinet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair approved the proposed law in its weekly meeting also redefining persons having mental disorders.

"The new law will replace the 105-year old The Lunacy Act 1912," Cabinet Secretary Md. Shafiul Alam told a media briefing after the meeting.

He said according to the draft anybody provoking a mental patient to commit any offence would face Taka five lakh fine or two years of jail or both for running of a mental hospital without any license.

"The draft said -- A person suffering from mental disabilities, or is not able to realise own potentiality, or a drug addicted person not able to run his or her normal livelihood, would be defined as mental patient," Alam said.

The draft said the government would constitute a directorate for carrying out mental health related activities coherently in the country. Besides, a three-member review and monitoring committee will be formed in every district under Deputy Commissioner where Civil Surgeon and Deputy Director of the Social Services of the district will act as members.

Alam said, guardian of the patients can apply before the committee to get support for the treatment of mental patients. The review committee would take step within a month of receiving such application.

The law also has provisions for setting up and operating hospitals and institutes under private sector for the treatment of the mental patients and providing quality services in this field, the cabinet secretary said.

Today's meeting also approved the draft of an Agreement on Trade, Promotion and Economic Cooperation to be signed between Bangladesh and the Czech Republic.

A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Tourism signed between Bangladesh and Cambodia was also given approval in the meeting.

During the meeting, Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan handed over a certificate of the UK based International Rating Organisation Llyod to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in which Chittagong Port was ranked 71st among 100 sea ports. In 2009 the rank was 98th.

The cabinet adopted three separate obituary references expressing shock and grief at the death of Fisheries and Livestock Minister and veteran freedom fighter Sayedul Haque, former Mayor of Chittagong City Corporation and President of Chittagong District Awami League ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury and Golam Mostafa Ahmed, a parliament member from Gaibandha-1 constituency.