BEIJING, (AFP) ― A city in southern China is considering passing a law to protect people who help strangers from being sued, after a case in which an injured toddler was ignored by 18 passers-by, a report said Wednesday.
Officials in Shenzhen are drafting rules that would protect well-intentioned rescuers from legal action if their efforts failed “as long as there was no negligence or deliberate sabotage,” the China Daily said.
There have been renewed calls for such laws in China after the death last month of a two-year-old girl who was twice run over in the southern city of Foshan, which like Shenzhen is located in the prosperous province of Guangdong.
At least 18 people walked past the girl, nicknamed Yue Yue, as she lay unconscious in the street, in a case that shocked the nation and sparked much soul-searching about the state of China’s morals.
Millions of Chinese went online to watch the grainy footage of the incident, which triggered speculation that the country’s rapid development and urbanization has made people more selfish.
Reports said the passers-by were likely concerned they would be held responsible if they stopped to help, after a high-profile 2006 case in which a driver who stopped to assist an elderly woman was later accused of knocking her down and sued.
Western countries including the United States, Canada and Australia, already have laws to protect rescuers from legal action, while in France people can be prosecuted if they fail to come to the aid of someone in danger.
But Zhou Chengxin, an official with the Legislative Affairs Office of Shenzhen, told AFP it would be the first such law in China.
Zhou said it was not clear when the draft law would be submitted to Shenzhen lawmakers for discussion.