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Sweden mulls 'good Samaritan' law

TT/The Local/pvs · 11 Mar 2011, 10:18

Published: 11 Mar 2011 10:18 GMT+01:00

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The report on a so-called civil courage (duty to rescue) law contains the recommendation that those who passively stand by in a situation of acute danger could land themselves in prison for up to two years or incur fines.

Olle Abrahamsson, who led the inquiry at the justice ministry and will hand over the report to the minister Beatrice Ask on Friday, however advised against following the report's recommendations to introduce the law.

"It would be even harder then to get people to stand witness," he said to the Dagens Nyheter daily.

A "Good Samaritan" law exists in several other countries, including Sweden's Nordic neighbours. The report is the result of an inquiry into whether Sweden should follow suit and adopt a similar legal praxis.

Abrahamsson argued that the law had little effect in many of the countries, arguing that those disinclined to assist would not change their behaviour just because they could be held to account in the courts.

He furthermore more pointed out that US studies indicate that more die while helping out those in need, than are actually saved.

France's good Samaritan law is perhaps one of the most well-known in a European context.

Story continues below…

While the law requires bystanders to assist those falling victim to crime or accident, the law generally excludes assistance that would endanger the person who is offering it.

Good Samaritan laws take their name from a parable told by Jesus commonly referred to as the Parable of the Good Samaritan contained in Luke 10:25-37. The parable tells the tale of aid given by one traveller to another traveler of a different religious and ethnic background who had been robbed and beaten by bandits.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:09 March 11, 2011 by Morenikeji
Talking about a system that has lost direction. Now they want to legislate kindness. They should make it compulsory that we all love one another. Why should there be anybody without a lover, I mean a romantic partner. So if you don't have a partner it should be a crime to turn down an advance from another person who is also single. Why not, really?
11:31 March 11, 2011 by Nemesis
What are they going to do, turn Sweden into a prison?

This should be an interesting farce to watch develop.
11:32 March 11, 2011 by krow
What will happen when I am called to help a victim due to my proximity to the attack venue and accidentally hit the perpetrators with a kung fu style since I have a black bet in judo? Will the police on arrival arrest and charge me for over use force?
13:13 March 11, 2011 by calebian22
Why would you go kung fu on someone if you're trained in Judo?
13:21 March 11, 2011 by krow
@Calebian22. Just an expression of trying to hit the person if needed
13:46 March 11, 2011 by isenhand
If they have such a law will they also provide training and equipment for each person?

BTW, isn't a "me only" type of society what we want? When we get it, they complain!
13:51 March 11, 2011 by Syftfel
I think this would be a good law! I only hope though, that the Law would be equally applied to people of ALL cultures and ethnic backgrounds, not only to ethnic Swedes.
14:12 March 11, 2011 by calebian22
Your judo is getting an inferiority complex. ;-)
16:01 March 11, 2011 by skylarkpilot
The lunatics have taken over the Swedish asylum yet again.
16:05 March 11, 2011 by Swedesmith
I have a pink belt in Clung Poo.
16:22 March 11, 2011 by CanisTrigger
I think the French got this right!
16:35 March 11, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
I don't think any country with a law of this nature have got it right. I think if a country finds itself needing a law like this, they need to take a good long look at themselves and address why helping their fellows doesn't come naturally.
17:42 March 11, 2011 by Grandson of Swedish Emigrants
(1) Can you legislate morality?

(2) Can you legislate people to put their lives, fortunes at risk?


I know a woman who performed Mouth to Mouth resucitation & CPR on a man who collapsed at a sporting event of an apparant heart attack. When the EMT's arrived and took over, they spent some time with her and told her that she also needed to go to the hospital to be checked. She asked why. They told her that they are not allowed to do what she did for fear that they will get AID/Heppetitus and/or a host of other incurable diseases. For her good Sameritan effort she had periodic medical testing on a regular basis for about a year.

The man ultimately died, and she was left with medical bills she had to pay, worry, and time off work without pay for her medical visits!

If Sweden wants to "encourage" good semaritans they should provide free first aid/CPR training where a culture of what one should do is taught. Then they should provide financial and legal support for people who "do the right thing" but are harmed somehow by the process.

You need to use carrots and not sticks. A law threatening jail terms is nuts. .....Especially, in a country where you can go to jail for having consentual sex.
18:15 March 11, 2011 by RitaPita
I agree that this is definitely a good route for the Swedes!

Maybe now they will think twice before watching an old person fall and not moving a hair to help... I've honestly seen some disgusting things here which they should be ashamed of.
18:17 March 11, 2011 by rquick
Heard of that woman in the US who got sued by her friend whom she dragged out of a burning car? Because of the rescuing attempt, that friend got paralysed. Of course she got sued for that, instead of receiving thanks.

Will this Good Samaritan law protect us against such things? I mean, we are not medically trained, and may make a mistake, but we are forced by law to help, so will we get the blame and our arse's being sued if we make an unwilling mistake?
18:35 March 11, 2011 by tadchem
In the US a "Good Samaritan" law merely provide protection to someone acting to help a stranger in distress. It does not *mandate* that the rescuer take any actions. If the victim suffers any adverse consequences of the incident or the rescue, the previous tendency in our litigous society was for the victim to sue the rescuer.

Under the "Good Samaritan" Law proposed here, because the government mandates action, the government incurs responsibility for the consequences of that action. If a rescuer, acting under threat of legal penalties for not acting, suffers adverse consequences as a result of the action mandated, then the government is liable.
19:14 March 11, 2011 by Hoath
If people are the become legally bound to help then knowingly putting your life in danger must also become an offence so things like 'extreme sports' should be banned.
21:44 March 11, 2011 by T Murphy
You can't legislate kindness.
22:00 March 11, 2011 by johnny1939
What if I really made the situation worse by jumping in perhaps not knowing what the heck I was doing? Common sense is not so common.
09:28 March 12, 2011 by millionmileman
In Wisconsin, USA, where i live the law is to protect the rescuer from being sued. In all my 3 million miles of world travels I have come to the rescue numerous times, to traffic accidents. Once I was diving from Jericho to Jerusalem when I spotted a VW Microbus with smoke billowing out of the rear engine. So I immediately ran over with my fire extinguisher to put out the fire when the smoke cleared away I looked at the adjacent sign with the Palestinian driver. the sign read "This is believed to be the site of The Good Samaritan, from the Bible."

I once stopped on a busy freeway to assist a roll-over with both occupants ejected from the SUV and I later discovered form the CCTV that 20 mins. had gone by before I arrived. Then a 200 klg sheriff arrived eating donuts, told me to move my car (which was out of traffic). I told him in expletives to "Put down the donuts and call in a ********* helicopter!" I served as a senior army medic staff sergeant.

Ironically the last time I helped at an accident was after a driver drove through an intersection and after surviving a 55 mph collision in my Saab 900 I rendered aid as the other car was upside down (på taket). Because of injuries That I sustained I was the one who sued the other driver and won.
11:43 March 12, 2011 by Daveo
Maybe if it didn't take the police a half an hour to get to a call in the first place there would not be a need for such a law.
13:43 March 12, 2011 by malsikcuf
Are the 'good samaritans' going to get paid union scale like the police do.

But seriously folks, Swedes never get involved for obvious reasons, this is one thing they're really good at.
07:31 March 13, 2011 by munched
FFS, can't somebody make this stop! One assinine legal situation after another. The internation image of swedes being mindless buttholes only gains credence with every article.
11:51 March 13, 2011 by Keith #5083
#swedesmith #10

Might I please ask you to refrain from these interjections in various comment columns as they are so damned funny I have already broken 3 chairs, 1 stool, dented my hardwood floor and seriously strained my Y-fronts laughing at them......!?! hehehehehe
07:00 March 15, 2011 by Raiha
I carry on my keyring in a little canvas pack, a disposable CPR mask for putting over the mouth of the victim and blowing through. Seals their mouth more thoroughly and prevents the spread of diseases. I've also got masks at home in my first aid kit, and in my car. Just in case. That said, I'm with emergency services though I'm not a paramedic.
04:21 July 12, 2011 by DamnImmigrant
I would like to point out that the PRIVACY LAWS for this type of good Samaritan Law needs to be changed! For that matter, they need to be changed even without this law getting passed.

I do stop and render assistance and I am TIRED of having someone else's blood on me only to be told by the Hospital that they cannot tell me if I should seek immediate treatment! IT SUCKS BIG TIME!!!

The patient's right to privacy was voided when they bled all over me while I was helping them!!!!

I stop and render assistance and I am NOT ALLOWED to know if MY LIFE is NOW IN DANGER!?!?! Not only that but if I did get some terrible disease while saving someones life and then my wife got it too because I did not know I got infected - now my kids are orphans?
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