By Keith Laing - 05/25/13 02:08 PM EDT
Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryUS arms sale to Saudi Arabia under fire from lawmakers Top Republican presses Kerry for Iran 'ransom' details US to provide 8M in aid to South Sudan amid humanitarian crisis MORE urged Nigerian leaders to order their troops to protect the human rights of enemy combatants during his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa since taking office.
“I have raised the issue of human rights with the government, with the foreign minister,” Kerry said in response to a question about Boko Haram groups that are battling in Nigeria.
“We have talked directly about the imperative of Nigerian troops adhering to the highest standards and not themselves engaging in atrocities or in human rights violations,” Kerry continued.
“That is critical. And the balance comes by having strong leadership – leadership from the civilian government, leadership that flows through the forces that are there.”
Kerry called Boko Haram a “terrorist organization” and he said that the U.S. acknowledges Nigeria’s right to defend itself.
But he said that “one person’s atrocity does not excuse another’s."
“Revenge is not the motive,” Kerry said. “It’s good governance. It’s ridding yourself of a terrorist organization so that you can establish a standard of law that people can respect. And that’s what needs to happen in Nigeria.”