From August 1, Shenzhen will implement China’s first Good Samaritan law, which will hopefully protect altruists and punish those who wrongly accuse them, according to The Nanfang.
Before the infamous Peng Yu was finally exposed as a liar, his story was lauded as the prime example of why Good Samaritans are so rare in China. In 2006, Peng Yu claimed that he was wrongfully sued by an old injured woman, when all that he did was help take her to hospital. Put simply, many of the public are afraid of lending a hand, lest they somehow become blamed for the events themselves. Just a week ago, a boy in Dazhou was sued for 500,000 yuan for not having successfully saved his drowning friends from a lake. And yet, with images of Yueyue’s horrific death still fresh in people’s minds, it is clear that standing on the sidelines will not do either.
As such, legislators are doing their best to provide support for those who want to help accident victims. Taking a cue from Peking University, who reportedly offered free legal support to students who had been wrongly accused of causing accidents, the Shenzhen regulation hopes to create a safer environment in which those who want to help can do so without fear of being themselves blamed for the accident.
The law stipulates that people who receive help should collect evidence to prove that their rescuer had done anything wrong; that Good Samaritans can seek help from legal aid organisations if they are threatened with lawsuits; and that Good Samaritans will face no consequences if their attempts to help are unsuccessful. In addition, those who are wrongly blamed have the right to take legal action, sue their accusers for libel and demand compensation.
Many victims – especially the elderly, may be so traumatised that they may not be able to accurately recollect the events that unfolded. They are more likely to distort the details of an accident not because they want to extort money, but simply because they are confused. Eyewitnesses are similarly reluctant to come forward to provide assistance, since there is no form of support or legislation in place at present.
This is not the first time that legislators have found it difficult to draft laws to protect those who just want to help others. In September, a set of well-meaning guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health caused controversy when it advised the following: “Do not rush to help, but manage according to the situation”.
Regardless, the new regulation is a much-needed and long-anticipated step in the right direction. And thankfully, there are still plenty of kind-hearted people who would save someone without a second thought.
[Image credit: @paullew]