In many countries, strict rules and harsh punishments belong only to the past. But these things are still a sad reality for a select few nations today. Public hangings, laws against pre-marital relationships, and labor camps might sound like the stuff of nightmares, but they are still occurring in certain parts of the world. Keep reading to find out which countries have the strictest laws and punishments.

North Korea Punishes Wrongdoers With Hard Labor

As a communist country, North Korea implements tough laws and even tougher penalties that locals and visitors have to follow. Typically, those who break the law, which includes speaking out against the government, are subject to sentences in prison camps where they will carry out hard labor for lengthy periods of time.


North Korean locals must follow strict laws that enforce a conservative fashion code and prohibit activities such as sexual relationships between non-married couples. Tourists to the country are accompanied by state-assigned “minders” who watch the tourists, ensuring they don’t break any rules.

Following the arrest of US college student Otto Warmbier in early 2016, the American government banned all US citizens from visiting the country. Warmbier was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in North Korea for taking down a propaganda poster during a short tour of the country. He was returned to the United States within two years in a vegetative state and was subsequently taken off life support by his family.

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Breaking Iran's Religious Laws May Result In Public Hanging

The Islamic Sharia Law dictates the governance and rules that locals must follow in Iran. The behavior of locals is highly controlled, particularly for women who are not allowed in public unless they adhere to certain conservative dress codes. Alcohol is discouraged in the country, while western music, including jazz and rock, is strictly forbidden.

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Iran. According to the website United Against Nuclear Iran, the country executes more people per capita than any other nation. Public executions are still legal in Iran, with the most common methods including hanging, stoning, firing squad, and beheading.

Some of the crimes that attract heavy punishments, ranging from detainment to torture to the death penalty, include same-sex relations, adultery, insulting government officials, and women appearing in public without the sufficient head covering.

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You Don’t Want To Break The Law In China, Where Torture And Re-Education Camps Are A Reality

China is renowned for passing laws that the majority of other countries view as strict, including prohibiting citizens from relocating to forbidding access to the internet. You don’t want to break the law in China because there are serious prices to pay, including the death penalty.

Locals can get in trouble for spreading anti-government propaganda. All forms of media are controlled and it is considered a criminal offense to discuss topics relating to reform or rebellion. Detainees have known to be tortured, sent to re-education camps, or sentenced to hard labor in order to pay for their crimes.

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Saudi Arabia Practices Tough Social Laws, Especially For Women

The laws governing Saudi Arabia are strongly linked to tradition and religion. Most of their social laws apply to women, who are subject to strict rules and restrictions. Saudi women are required to have a man swear for them in a court of law and must obtain permission from a male relative before traveling.

In the highly publicized Qatif Case, an 18-year-old Saudi woman who was kidnapped and assaulted was sentenced to six months in prison and 90 lashes because she was in the car of a male who was not related to her prior to the attack.

Indonesian Traffickers Face The Firing Squad

Indonesia enforces stricter laws than many western countries, particularly when it comes to drug trafficking. Foreign tourists in Bali have been known to try and get away with smuggling drugs out of the country, only to receive extremely harsh penalties, ranging from 20-year prison sentences to capital punishment.

In Indonesia, the death penalty is carried out by firing squad. Caning is also a legal punishment and is usually carried out in public.

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