Shenzhen ponders protection for Good Samaritans

Updated: 2011-11-02 08:35

By Huang Yuli (China Daily)

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SHENZHEN, Guangdong - Local legislators in Shenzhen are drafting the country's first local regulation to protect Good Samaritans.

Zhou Chengxin, director of the research institute under the Legislative Affairs Office of Shenzhen, said it is unclear when the draft could be submitted to Shenzhen People's Congress for discussion.

The current draft includes rules such as exempting those who help others from responsibility if the rescue fails, as long as there was no negligence or deliberate sabotage.

It also stipulates that if the person being helped wants to make an accusation against the helper, he or she must offer evidence.

Zhou said the country has no similar laws or regulations in this field, so there is no existing copy to follow or learn from."It's still under discussion whether it's proper for Shenzhen to adopt such a regulation, or leave it to the national legislature to make a nationwide law," Zhou said.

"We hope the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature, and the Supreme People's Court could offer instructions."

The city's move to draft such a regulation started at the beginning of this year after a proposal by Xu Long, vice-president of a local hospital and a member of the Shenzhen Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Xu said he was shocked by an incident in Shenzhen in 2010 when an old man died of suffocation after falling down in his community, because people just watched but nobody helped.

A recent case in Foshan, Guangdong province, in which 2-year-old girl Yue Yue was run over twice by vehicles but ignored by 18 passers-by, also shocked the nation. The girl, finally rescued by a cleaner, died on Oct 21 despite days of intensive medical treatment in hospital.

The indifference of the onlookers shocked people, who started to reflect on the moral values of society.

Experts said part of the indifference results from a series of widely reported cases in which helpers were accused by those they helped. In a well-known case four years ago, Peng Yu, a young man in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, was found responsible by the local Gulou district court of injuring a 66-year-old woman.

Peng, seeing the woman lying hurt after a fall, rushed her to a nearby hospital. However, when the woman insisted that Peng was the one who knocked her down and sued him, the court, without any evidence, ruled that Peng was liable, as common sense suggested only the person who had injured the victim would behave in such a way.

Though the case ended with reconciliation, it has made many people afraid of getting involved in such disputes and experts have been calling for legislation to help protect Good Samaritans.

Wu Ming'an, a professor with China University of Political Science and Law, said the Yue Yue case rang the alarm bell for the entire society.

To prevent Yue Yue's tragedy from occurring again, it is essential to improve the moral level of the public, Wu said.

"But we do need laws and regulations to protect and encourage Good Samaritans," he said. "Shenzhen's attempt may set a good example for the country."

Jin Huiyu contributed to this story.