China prepares 1st good Samaritan regulation

Updated: 2011-11-29 16:43

By Yang Jie (

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The draft of a local good Samaritan regulation started soliciting public opinions in Shenzhen special economic zone, South China's Guangdong province, Guangzhou Daily reported Tuesday.

It is the first time in China that a special regulation was formulated to protect bystanders who choose to help a stranger in distress. Once implemented, the regulation is expected to significantly reduce people's hesitation to help other people in need for fear of being sued or prosecuted for unintentional injury or wrongful death.

Last month, a toddler nicknamed Yue Yue died eight days after she was twice run over by vans and then ignored by 18 passers-by as she lay critically injured on a street in Foshan, Guangdong province. Most people attribute the apathy of the onlookers partially to a high-profile 2006 case in East China's Jiangsu province in which a driver who stopped to help an elderly woman was later punished.

Peng Yu, then 26, said he stopped after seeing a woman fall and escorted her to a hospital, but she accused him of knocking her down with his car, and a court ordered him to pay her 45,000 yuan ($6,900) in damages.

According to the new draft in circulation, good Samaritans won't be held accountable for the consequences of their compassion unless major mistakes are made. If those in distress ever try to hold their helpers responsible for injuries or damages by deliberately distorting the facts or lodging false complaints, they will face punishment ranging from stern admonishment to fines and detainment.

A local public security fund will reward witnesses who provide verified testimony in favor of the good Samaritans once there is any lawsuit, says the draft.

This timely regulation is well received among Shenzhen residents. "Finally, we are reassured to help others without taking a picture or shooting a video to record the scene first," said a local public servant surnamed Hu.

However, law experts have another opinion. It is important that people are ready to help others in case of an emergency, but sometimes it's better for passers-by to call and wait for professional help as laymen rushing to help may incur more damage or the loss of more lives, according to a legal counselor surnamed Feng.