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March 6, 2012

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Law protecting those who perform brave deeds being drafted in city

WU Fujia, a 28-year-old Shanghai resident, has more than 10 scars on his body to show for his years of occasional fighting with thieves in the streets.

He doesn't regret his efforts, but the increasing scars remind him not to be so heroic and to start protecting himself. Wu has even been mischaracterized as a gangster because of the scars on his neck, he told Shanghai Daily.

Wu is not alone. There are many residents who have helped others but ended up injuring themselves. The lack of a law to protect them has restrained them, however, making them think twice before helping the next time they see others being victimized or in danger.

But Wu and others like him may have less to worry about soon, as Shanghai is to stipulate a local law this year to help good Samaritans who perform brave deeds.

City lawmakers said the law, which was recently put into the legislative pipeline, may include clauses to exempt good Samaritans from responsibility in some extreme cases, in which injuries or death comes to those they help or fight against.

Under the current legal system, those standing up to protect victims can still face compensation claims or even jail terms for injuring perpetrators of crimes.

"It's too hard to be a good man who is taking more risk than the suspect," Wu told Shanghai Daily. "I used to think about nothing but justice while catching the street thieves but now I have to think more. After all, who's going to take care of my mom if I'm down?"

Wu said he had caught numerous thieves over the years and received many wounds in fighting with them but was recognized only once with a 2,000 yuan (US$317) prize. He still had to cover the medical fees himself.

But under the proposed law, a government-supported fund will be established not only for one-time awards but also to ensure that when people get injured while helping others, the medical bills for long-term treatment will be covered.

The legislation comes in response to mounting calls from the public urging more protection for heroic citizens so that more will dare and be encouraged to offer a helping hand to people in emergencies.

The legislative plan has won support from local lawyers. The lawyers argued that a good Samaritan law is absent under China's legal system and the government is responsible for offering better legal protection for this group, who contribute to society's common interests.

Non-local doers of brave deeds, after their behaviors are officially recognized by the government, may also receive extra credentials in applying for a local permanent residency permit, which grants better social welfare standards, according to the current legislation.

The future law may also cover local citizens helping others with brave manners in places outside of Shanghai, said Li Ming, a local legislator.

The law drafting will kick off later this year. Wu appreciates such progress and hopes more residents will stand up.

"If more people stand up, the stealing will be less rampant and we'll live in a safer society," Wu said.

For Wu, things are also getting better. A local hospital has contacted Shanghai Daily and is willing to offer free medical services to clear Wu's neck scars.


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