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UN Mission Counsellor ordered to return for consultations

UN Mission Counsellor ordered to return for consultations

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Sehon Marshall, counsellor at the Permanent Mission of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to the United Nations, has been ordered home, pending the outcome of an investigation into alleged domestic abuse.

The investigation stems from an incident which took place in New York last Friday, in which Sehon is alleged to have struck his wife Xandra in the face. Xandra is the deputy consul general at the SVG Consulate in New York.

Speaking on STAR Radio yesterday, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that Sehon has been ordered home and that the Government has a mature understanding of the facts and circumstances as it relates to the domestic incident.

The New York Daily News and the New York Post reported last Friday that Sehon, 43, struck his wife Xandra, 36, after an argument broke out at their home in the Canarsie area of Brooklyn at 1:15 a.m. Friday.

Gonsalves said he learnt of the incident on Friday afternoon and immediately consulted with Foreign Minister Sir Louis Straker, Ambassador Rhonda King, this country’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) and Consul General in New York Howie Prince.

Sehon reports to King, while Prince is Xandra’s boss.

According to the New York Daily News, the police officers who responded to the call saw Xandra’s lip split open and her finger swollen when they arrived at the house. The police,however, did not arrest Sehon because he has diplomatic immunity, which protects him from prosecution.

The Prime Minister said that prior to Sehon being ordered home, he held talks with him and Xandra separately, as well as with some members of the Cabinet, Parliament and persons in SVG and the diaspora whose counsel he values.

Gonsalves said the two overriding principles that have to be distilled and upon which we must act within the context of the law and the against the backdrop of the facts are that the Government takes a very strong position against domestic violence and that the matter ceased being a private matter when it was reported to the New York City (NYC) police.

Gonsalves said the Government’s strong stance on domestic violence is reflected in its policies and programmes.

“…If you want any evidence of it you would have seen not too long ago in the Parliament, we passed a very tough domestic violence Bill, which has been enacted and the Government unreservedly condemns domestic violence,” said Gonsalves.

He said when the NYC police got involved, the State authorities of the host country became involved and thus it moved from a purely private matter to one involving state to state relations and it involved what you call a praxis of diplomacy between SVG and the USA.

The Prime Minister said the Government is expecting a formal diplomatic communication from the relevant authorities in the US.

“Mr Marshall has a version of the facts somewhat at variance from the facts of Mrs Marshall, but on many core issues one can discern agreement.”

He also disclosed that Sehon’s mother-in-law was present when the incident was taking place.

The Prime Minister said as a consequence of the consultations, and ascertaining the facts and considering everything, both Sehon and Xandra were instructed by Kingstown not to report for work until further notice, while Sehon was summoned forthwith to SVG.

“The Government is taking this matter with utmost seriousness and is considering all the alive legal options in this matter. From what I have said, you can deduce certain possible conclusions, outcomes really, but as always, we have to act sensibly, deliberately and firmly as all the circumstances and the law and guiding principles admit,” said Gonsalves, who stressed that this was an incident which had degenerated into domestic violence and one he regrets.

“I am sure that these two young people will take this setback and turn it into an advance. A setback should not define your life entirely.

“This incident is one which all right-thinking persons would say that the incidents of domestic violence are wrong…it is an issue that involves interstate relations when the police were brought in, but yet at the same time these are human beings, real flesh and blood with three children and they have their issues to address and they will no doubt in their life take a fresh guard.”

Sehon was appointed Deputy Consul General at the New York Consulate in October 2014; he was transferred to the UN Mission in August 2016.

Xandra had been on the job for a few weeks, having only been appointed to Seon’s former job at the NY Consulate earlier this month. A statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday said the formal instruments for Xandra’s appointment had not been issued.(LC)

CORRECTION November 28, 2017: An earlier version of this story misstated that Sehon Marshall had already returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He is still in the United States.