False flagging: Are vessels using African flags to evade sanctions?

By Robert Bociaga

Posted on Friday, 10 March 2023 15:43
Boats docked off the coast in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. (Robert Bociaga)

African countries like Tanzania, Cameroon, and others have been accused of reflagging Iranian vessels, or false flagging, the practice of re-registering vessels under the flag of a different country to evade penalty. By allowing them to transport illegal materials under sanction, the effectiveness of international sanctions and the responsibility of flag states in ensuring compliance remains a challenge.

A Tanzanian-registered tanker capsized and sunk in the southern Iranian port of Assaluyeh in January, according to Tanzanian media. The Anil was reportedly owned by Amir Kashiani of Iran under the recognised organisation dubbed ‘Royal Classification Society’.

Suspicions remain, however, as US sanctions against Iran continue to hinder robust commerce – Iran and Tanzania trade reached $70m in 2022, according to a statement made by Iranian Ambassador to Tanzania Hossein Alvandi Bahineh in January.