A Lithuanian inmate won a case at the European Court of Human Rights against the Prisons Department's ban on growing beards at internment facilities.

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The 63-year-old man, interned at Marijampolė Correctional Facility, argued that he was subjected to "humiliation and grief" by being forced to shave his beard.

The judges at the Strasbourg-based court decided that the prison violated the man's right to privacy. They ruled that an absolute ban on growing beard was not justified by hygiene requirements.

Moreover, the ruling said, the ban did not seem to apply to other types of facial hair like sideburns or moustaches.

The court was not convinced by the Lithuanian government's argument that the claimant, Rimantas Biržietis, had not sported a beard before being interned nor afterwards.

The Lithuanian Prisons Department says that the rule was adopted in 1999 and remained in effect until 2010. It stated that inmates must be clean and shaved.

Biržietis argued that the procedure of shaving the beard irritated his skin and caused health problems.

The European Court of Human Rights refused, however, to award €10,000 in damages to the claimant, saying that a ruling in his favour sufficed.

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