Manuel Lezertua Rodríguez, born in Bilbao on 6 February 1957.
Elected as Ararteko (the ombudsman of the Basque Country) during the plenary session of the Basque Parliament on 28 May 2015, Manuel Lezertua took office before the Plenary Sitting of the Basque Parliament on 18 June 2015. He was elected for a 5-year term. His first term of office ended on 3 February 2021.
On 18 February 2021, the Basque Parliament re-elected Lezertua for a second 5-year term and he took office on the 25th of that month.
- Ensuring that citizens' rights are respected in their relations with the Basque public administrations.
- Overseeing the running of the local, provincial and regional administrations of the Basque Country.
- Fostering public policies in keeping with fundamental human rights and freedoms.
- Raising awareness with the administrations and the citizens of the Basque Autonomous Community of the problems and challenges relating to respecting rights and freedoms, action against discrimination and prohibiting arbitrariness.
- Acting as an interlocutor for Basque civil society in relation to problems regarding guaranteeing rights.
- Law Degree from Deusto University.
- Master of Laws (LLM). King's College, University of London, specialising in European Comparative and Administrative Law.
- PhD programme, partially in Basque. Law Faculty, University of the Basque Country.
Career prior to being appointed ararteko:
- International civil servant at the Council of Europe from 1985, where Lezertua held several posts, including:
- Executive Secretary of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO)
- Head of the Criminal Problems Service, General Directorate of Legal Affairs
- Director of the Office of the Council of Europe Commissioner on Human Rights
- Director of Legal Advice (Jurisconsult) and Public International Law.
- Lezertua had previously been a lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights and served as a lawyer for the Spanish Constitutional Court. He is also a career civil servant of the Basque Government, attached to the Basque Institute of Public Administration of the Department of the Presidency of the Government and Justice.
- Visiting lecturer at the International Institute of Human Rights, Robert Schumann University, Strasbourg (1988-2014); member of the Tribunal of the European Diploma in Human Rights
- Lecturer at the Institute of European Studies at Deusto University
- Associate Lecturer of Human Rights Jurisprudence, Law Faculty, University of Navarra
- Guest Lecturer on the Master's Degree in Administration and Human Rights of the University of the Basque Country-UPV/EHU (Public Law Department)
Lezertua is multilingual and the author of many publications on community law and human rights.
During his first term of office, the ararteko was clearly committed, as a strategic approach, to providing the institution with an international and European dimension and to consolidate the interaction of the Ararteko with other defenders of rights and with European and international multilateral organisations defending human rights. Consequently, relations have been intensified with the IOI (International Ombudsman Institute), the ENO (European Network of Ombudsmen), the FIO (Ibero-American Federation of Ombudsmen), the IALC (International Association of Language Commissioners), ENOC (European Network of Ombudspersons for Children), along with bilateral contacts with other international authorities and with Ombudsman in different European countries.
Lezertua’s main goal at the head of the institution is to consolidate it as a benchmark in the defence of human rights and citizen liberties, and to ensure, in the sphere of Basque public administrations, that the law is applied humanely, interpreted according to people's circumstances, particularly in the case of the most vulnerable.