The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it is aware of a report in the New York media that one of its diplomats reportedly punched his wife, also a diplomat, in the face at their Brooklyn home on Friday.
A spokesperson for the government told iWitness News on Friday that members of the Unity Labour Party administration have seen a media report about the alleged incident.
The spokesperson, however, said that the government would investigate the matter before commenting.
The New York Post reported on Friday that Sehon Marshall, a counsellor at the Permanent Mission of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations allegedly punched his wife, Xandra Marshall, in the face in Brooklyn on Friday.
Mrs. Marshall took up a post as Deputy Consul General at the SVG Consulate in New York, a post her husband previously held.
Police officers who responded could not arrest Mr. Marshall because he has diplomatic immunity — meaning that he is protected by a law forbidding prosecution of foreign diplomats in the U.S.
Mr. Marshall is no stranger to controversy and apologised in 2014 for an undiplomatic statement he made about Vincentians in New York, even as he was in discussions with Kingstown about representing the ULP administration in New York.
In September 2014, Mr. Marshall, then a diplomat-designate, apologised for disparaging remarks he made about the occupations and the economic circumstances of some Vincentians in the United States.
Speaking on Cross Country Radio in late August 2014, Marshall said that before the ULP came to office (in March 2001), civil servants used to quit their jobs and migrate to the United States and become nannies and dog walkers.
The statement outraged Vincentians in New York, who, through remittances, contribute significantly to the Vincentian economy.
Mr. Marshall apologised two weeks later on We FM, saying, “At no time […] did I intend to hurt, shame, diminish people’s effort, ridicule people’s effort in my statement, but I think very often I get passionate, and in that particular instance, my passion went too far and I used some words that were unnecessary, were a bit strong, the language was a bit robust…”
Mrs. Marshall’s appointment as the SVG Deputy Consul General in New York became public last week Sunday, Nov. 19, when Consul General Howie Prince introduced her to Vincentians at a town hall meeting in New York, at which Minister of Tourism Cecil “Ces” McKie and head of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache spoke.
Prince said he was pleased that Kingstown had seen it fit to augment the staff at the consulate.
Prince, who was appointed in September 2016, said that before the two new members of staff arrived, it was virtually a one-man show because he did not have technical staff to represent the consulate at the highest level.
“Tonight, I am pleased that the government listened to our call for help and have provided us help,” Prince said and introduced Bernadette Ambrose Black as the investment and trade officer, and Mrs. Marshall, as deputy consul general.
Mrs. Marshall told the gathering that she felt a “deep sense of humility” at being chosen to represent the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in New York.
Mr. Marshall is the second diplomat since 2014 to put St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
When he was appointed as Deputy Consul General to New York in 2014, Mr. Marshall replaced Edson Augustus, whom the government recalled earlier that year after learning that the diplomat had taken monies from persons in the United States and promised to help them to obtain U.S. permanent resident cards.