A Danish lawmaker faced criticism on Thursday for saying boats carrying migrants could be prevented from reaching Europe by firing “warning shots” at them.
“The only way you can do it efficiently is by simply turning the boats around and saying you cannot sail within this territorial border,” Kenneth Kristensen Berth, a lawmaker for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party (DPP) said.
“If you do that you will either be fired at or you will be turned around and sailed back,” he said during a debate in Copenhagen on Wednesday.
In a Facebook post after the debate, Berth said he did not advocate “shooting at migrants” but that “warning shots” could be used against the ships carrying them.
A lawmaker for the ruling Venstre party, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, said on Twitter that the remarks were “not okay” and that “warning shots are… a warning of what is to follow.”
“Of course you don’t shoot at people who are fleeing. It shouldn’t be necessary to say,” Mette Frederiksen, the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, wrote on Facebook.
A DPP spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.
Denmark introduced a host of measures to deter migrants from coming to the country earlier this year, including a controversial rule allowing police to confiscate their valuables to help pay for their accommodation.
According to the UN, at least 4,700 people have died, are missing or feared to have drowned this year while trying to cross the Mediterranean.