Order illegalizes house searches without warrant

Kim Chae Hwan  |  2016-12-23 16:50
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Kim Jong Un has allegedly ordered the Ministry of Peoples Security not to search houses unless a warrant is issued. The measure appears to be aimed at addressing growing complaints against impromptu house searches, which normally require bribes to be paid.

A source in Ryanggang Province told Daily NK on December 20 that the instruction was handed down in early December, seemingly the result of peoples escalating disgruntlement and official complaints to the district office over the tyrannical behavior of law enforcement officers.

"Ministry of Peoples Security (MPS) officers often search people's homes without a warrant under the guise of uncovering illegal activity, while forcing people to pay bribes in exchange for leniency. But the searches are said to have slightly declined after the instruction was issued," she said.

"MPS personnel are acting differently now. They used to patrol the streets like they were guarding a prison complex, but now surveillance and house searches have been reduced.

The new measures imply that the regime is aware of the increasing discontent toward control and surveillance. The authorities may have realized that this could threaten the regimes stability, as discontent mounts following continuous mobilization for the 70- and 200-Day Battles, severe flood damage in North Hamgyong Province, and the corruption of security agents adding to the problem.

"People are saying that MPS officials are not guardians who protect our lives and property but  vampires who suck the blood and sweat out of people. The Party seems to have decided that some measures must be taken to put restraints on the agents misconduct," said a separate source in Ryanggang Province, adding that the order may also be interpreted as a warning to MPS personnel to toe the Party line. 

The instruction also seems to be related to patchy but seemingly organized incidences of anti-government sentiment transpiring across the nation from the end of November to early December. These include the littering of currency defaced with disparaging remarks about the regime, and graffiti in public areas.

Ahn Chan Il, Director of the World Institute for North Korea Studies, told Daily NK on December 21, "Kim Jong Un seems to have realized that oppression does not always work.

"Kim Jong Un has already granted the State Security Department full immunity to oppress people in the name of safeguarding the regime. He must have drawn the conclusion that extending the same right to the MPS has led to greater exploitation, creating negative sentiment towards the regime," Ahn added.

Notwithstanding the recent mandate, few on the ground feel optimistic that it will have any real impact, regarding it as little more than empty words.

"MPS officials are often referred to as wasps because they attack peasants like predators and survive on extortion. As they are accustomed to extortion, it is only a matter of time before they resume their usual behavior," a source in North Hamgyong Province concluded.

*Translated by Yejie Kim
*Edited by Lee Farrand

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