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 Chinese city poised to introduce country's first Good Samaritan rules

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PostSubject: Chinese city poised to introduce country's first Good Samaritan rules   Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:42 pm

Shenzhen publishes draft regulations to encourage people to come to each other's aid in the wake of the death of a two-year-old girl

A major Chinese city wants to introduce the country's first "Good Samaritan" rules to encourage residents to help each other, after the death of a two-year-old girl whose plight was ignored by passersby horrified the nation.

Millions watched the shocking surveillance footage showing Yueyue being knocked down by a van, ignored by a stream of passers-by and run over by a second vehicle before a woman finally came to her aid. The girl from Foshan, Guangdong province, died days later in hospital.

Officials in nearby Shenzhen have published a draft of rules designed to encourage people to come to each other's aid, the Guangzhou Daily reported.

It follows widespread calls for a national law in the wake of Yueyue's death, with experts warning that many people were too frightened to help each other thanks to a spate of cases where people sued their rescuers, alleging they had caused the injuries in the first place. In some cases they may have been genuinely mistaken, but in others the claims seem to have been blatant extortion.

According to a report in the Guangzhou Daily, the new rules free Good Samaritans from legal responsibility for the condition of the person they help, except in the case of gross negligence.

"This can be seen as the core of the regulation. Its goal is to free citizens who do good things from worries," said by Zhang Jian, a lawyer at the Shenzhen Dacheng law firm.

Those who falsely accuse helpers of causing their injuries will face punishments ranging from having to make a public apology to paying fines or even detention.

Other measures include offering legal aid to helpers who are sued and official visits to Good Samaritans to express the city's appreciation.

The rules also state that the burden of evidence lies on the person accusing a rescuer of wrongdoing, not on the person who does the rescue.

In several cases, police and courts have demanded that the helper prove his or her innocence, while the extortionist has not needed to produce evidence. One judge ordered a man to pay more than 45,000 yuan (£4,400) to an old lady he had taken to hospital, arguing it was common sense that he would not have gone to such trouble unless he had caused her fall.

"I am very happy that this regulation has come out. People have been hoping for it for a long time," said Professor Tan Fang of South China Normal University, who has set up a foundation giving legal support to helpers who are wrongly accused of harm.

"I hope Shenzhen can strictly enforce the regulation. I also hope the regulation will be adopted by more provinces and become a national law."

But Zhang suggested it was unfair to place the burden of proof on the person helped.

"If so-called helpers actually made a major mistake, and the victims cannot offer evidence, then can the helpers just go unpunished by law?" he asked.

• Additional research by Han Cheng

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