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Sweden mulls 'good Samaritan' law

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10:18 CET+01:00
To decline to come to the assistance of another person whose life may be in danger could lead to a prison sentence, according to recommendations in a report to be presented to the Swedish government on Friday.

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.

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.

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