Christina Lamb

Sunday Times

Mass abduction of Ukrainian children; castration of male soldiers taken prison by Russia; and an undercover investigation into the murderous regime in Zimbabwe - these powerful submissions demonstrate Christina's intrepid reporting, bravery, and compelling writing as well as her determination to uncover injustice.

Imagine sending your child on a school trip and them never coming back. In her first submission from Ukraine, Christina exposed the chilling abduction of Ukrainian children, taken to Russia and paraded almost as spoils of war. She tracked down mothers searching for their children, and gently won their confidence to hear their stories. Christina was able to produce the first in-depth account of what had happened to these children, from how they were tricked into leaving to the brainwashing they endured and the daring rescues by their mothers 5000 miles into enemy territory. One week after the story was published the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladmir Putin and his children’s commissioner, Maria Lvov-Belova, who had publicly adopted a stolen boy from Mariupol. Christina’s reporting in Ukraine yielded another profoundly disturbing account of the horrors inflicted by Russian troops on Ukrainian army prisoners: She thought she was unshockable then two castrated soldiers arrived. Christina heard terrible stories from Ukrainian military officials of the tortures their captured soldiers had endured. As a pioneer in reporting the difficult subject of sexual violence against women in war, she knew that men had also been victims of similar abuse. Yet the subject is often taboo. When she was told that Ukrainian soldiers had been castrated and their penises hacked off by knives, she determined to investigate. Perhaps not surprisingly, the soldiers involved were suicidal and could not speak to a journalist. But Christina got to know their psychologist through whom they agreed to recount details of their ordeal. The story she told was bloodcurdling, and widely followed by other media. Over the years Christina has paid repeated visits to Zimbabwe, many of them undercover during the brutal Mugabe regime. With Mugabe long gone, tens of thousands of British tourists are flocking to its natural attractions. But Mugabe’s successor, former spy chief Emmerson Mnangagwa, doesn’t like visiting journalists either, and Christina travelled undercover once again to report on the harsh reality for Zimbabweans who hoped for better when their last dictator departed: They danced when Mugabe fell. Now life in Zimbabwe is worse than ever. Zimbabwe may have dropped out of the news but Christina’s commitment to difficult stories produced a stinging portrait of a country wracked by violence and poverty. She met a female opposition MP brutally beaten for daring to campaign against the ruling party; a lawyer whose arm was broken by police for defending an opposition client; and the opposition leader whose party was literally abducted by the regime. She found trains that haven’t run for years, a surgeon at the biggest hospital in tears at his inability to treat even basic illnesses, all contrasted with the opulence inside the enclave of the President’s cronies.