20 March 2006 :North Korea issued a special decree that called for the maximum penalty of death for its citizens involved in manufacturing and trafficking drugs, a South Korean relief group said. A copy of the North's decree, obtained by Seoul-based Good Friends, also provided for severe punishment for those who stole communication or electricity lines for sale, a crime that defectors said was prevalent in the poor communist country.
"Those who severely violate this decree will be sentenced to death, irrespective of their contribution and status," said the decree issued by the Ministry of People's Security, or police.
"The North's decree can be both for domestic and outside purposes," a South Korean government official said, requesting anonymity. "However, it should be noted that it reflects the North's will to eradicate illicit acts among its people."
The North's decree apparently superseded a reinforced criminal code the country adopted in 2004. The new code provides for two years of jail terms for drug users and up to five years for those engaged in making or selling drugs, according to South Korean officials. The North's decree also promised to mete out severe punishment for collaborators, even the leaders of organizations, to which violators belonged. It was unclear when the decree was issued but Ri Gun, a North Korean deputy foreign minister, said in New York on 7 March that his country had issued a strong decree against drug trafficking on 1 March.