Prof Shaun De Freitas
Public Law
JBG 136
IB 82

Short CV


Obtained the degrees B. Proc. (1996); LL.B. (2000); the LL.M. by thesis (2004) and the LL.D. (2014) at the Faculty of Law, University of the Free State (UFS). Completed a 6 month course in applied law at the Free State School for Legal Practice (1998). Underwent training as a candidate attorney at the law firm Honey Inc., Bloemfontein (1998-2000). Part-time lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Department of Constitutional Law & Philosophy of Law, UFS (2001-2003). Appointed as Lecturer in 2003; promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2004 and to Associate Professor in 2008. Promoted to Professor (Full) in 2018. Academic Head of the Department of Constitutional Law & Philosophy of Law, UFS (2008-2011 & 2014). Lectures Human Rights Law. Area of research focus: Religious rights and freedoms as well as the intersection between religion, the state and the law. Author of scholarly articles and book chapters, and also presented a number of papers both locally and internationally. Co-Editor: Journal for Juridical Science [JJS] (2006-2013); Editor-in-Chief: Journal for Juridical Science [JJS] (2013-2018); member of the editorial board of the African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law [AYIHL] (2006-), as well as of the International Journal for Religious Freedom [IJRF] (2011-). Serves as an Adjunct Professor at the School of Law, University of Notre Dame Australia (Sydney) (2016 - ). Rated as an established researcher by the National Research Foundation (South Africa). Academic Head of the Department of Public Law, UFS (2019-).


Publications (Short List)

  - author

  - co-author

  • “Church Tribunals, Doctrinal Sanction and the South African Constitution”, Dutch-Reformed Theological Journal (NGTT), Part 43, Numbers 1 & 2, March and June (2002), 276-284.  
  • “The Constitutional Dynamic of Civil Society and the Role of the Churches in South Africa”, Acta Academica, Vol. 37, Issue 2, (2005), 21-51. 
  • “A critical retrospection regarding the legality of abortion in South Africa”, Journal for Juridical Science (JJS), Vol. 30, Issue 1, (2005), 118-145. 
  • “Resistance, Rebellion and a Swiss Brutus?”, The Historical Journal, Vol. 48, 1(2005), 1-26, Cambridge University Press, UK.  
  • “Mercenarism and Customary International Law?”, African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law (AYIHL), JUTA & Co. Ltd, (2006), 17-41. 
  • “Humanity, the Unborn and the Intersection of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law”, African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law (AYIHL), JUTA & Co. Ltd, (2007), 39-59. 
  • “Religion, legal scholarship and higher education: perspectives for the South African context”, Acta Academica, Vol. 39, Issue 3, (2007), 45-66. 
  • “Civic Engagement, Belief and the Scholarly Aspect in Higher Education”, Journal for Christian Scholarship, Vol. 44, Issues 3&4, (2008), 1-25. 
  • “The Relevance of Science for the protection of the Unborn”, Journal for Christian Scholarship, Vol. 45, Issues 1&2, (2009), 61-85. 
  • “The Unborn and A, B, & C v. Ireland”, Case Note, Journal for Juridical Science (JJS), Vol. 35, Issue 1, (2010), 93-112.  
  • “The Public University, Religion, and a Pluralist Platform for Communication”, Acta Theologica, (Supplementum 14 on Faith, Religion and the Public University), (2011), 31-48.  
  • “Seeking Deliberation on the Unborn in International Law”, Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ), Vol. 14, 5(2011), 8-37.  
  • “Freedom of conscience, medical practitioners and abortion in South Africa”, International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF), Vol. 4, Issue 1 – Advocacy and the Law, (2011), 75-85. 
  • “Mottos, Prayer and the Public University”, South African Journal on Human Rights (SAJHR) 2(2012), 175-195.  
  • “Freedom of Association as a Foundational Right: Religious Associations and Johan Daniel Strydom v Nederduitse Gereformeerde Gemeente Moreleta Park”, South African Journal on Human Rights (SAJHR) 2(2012), 258-272.  
  • A, B, & C v. Ireland: The Unborn and an Appreciation of the Margin of Appreciation”, Ave Maria International Law Journal  Vol. 2, 1(2012), 1-23.  
  • “The South African Constitutional Court and the Unborn”, International Journal for Religious Freedom (IJRF), Vol. 5, 2(2012), 51-61.  
  • “Religious Associational Rights and Sexual Conduct in South Africa: Towards the Furtherance of the Accommodation of a Diversity of Beliefs”, Brigham Young University Law Review, Vol. 2013, 3(2013), 421-456.  
  • “Proselytism and the Right to Freedom from Improper Irreligious Influence: The Example of Public School Education”, Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ), Vol., 17, 3(2014), 868-887.
  •  “Sexual Conduct, Appointments and the Slippery Slope of Harm and Economic Opportunity in the context of the Rights of Religious Associations”, Law and Religion in Africa – The quest for the common good in pluralistic societies; P. Coertzen, M. Christian Green and L. Hansen (eds.), African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, (Sun Media: Stellenbosch, 2015), 285-297.
  • “Doctrinal Sanction and the Protection of the Rights of Religious Associations: Ecclesia de Lange v The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa (726/13) [2014] ZASCA 151”, Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ), Vol. 19, (2016), 1-22.
  • “Transcending the Private-Public School Divide in the Context of the Right to Freedom of Religion in South Africa”, Chapter 19, in Religious Freedom and Religious Pluralism in Africa – Prospects and Limitations, P. Coertzen, M. Christian Green and L. D. Hansen (eds.), African Consortium for Law and Religion Studies, (SUN PReSS: Stellenbosch, 2016), 325-341.

  • “Samuel Rutherford and the Protection of Religious Freedom in Early Seventeenth-Century Scotland”, Westminster Theological Journal (WTJ), Vol. 78, Fall(2016), 231-248, USA.
  • "The protection of public schools with a religious ethos in South Africa against the background of Zylberberg v. Sudbury Board of Education", Stellenbosch Law Review (SLR), Vol. 28, 2(2017), 424-443.
  • Organisasie vir Godsdienste-Onderrig en Demokrasie v Laerskool Randhart et al: The Right to Freedom of Religion, Diversity and the Public School”, Journal for Juridical Science (JJS), Special Issue on Education Law, Vol. 43(2), 32-52. 
  • “The Protection of Conscientious Objection against Euthanasia in Health Care”, Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ), Vol. 22, (2019), 1-32.
  • “A Critique of Ronald Dworkin’s Limitation of Passive Forms of Religious Expression in the Public Sphere”, Tijdschrift voor Recht en Religie (Journal for Law and Religion) (NTKR - Netherlands), 1(2019), 27-41.
  • “Law, Judges and the Exclusionary Nature of Inclusion” in Inclusion, Exclusion and Religious Freedom in Contemporary Australia, Michael Quinlan (ed.), (Shepherd Street Press, an imprint of Connor Court Publishing: Australia, 2021), 47-71.
  • “Religion, Culture and the Constitutionality of the ‘Avoidance of Doctrinal Entanglement’”, Stellenbosch Law Review (SLR), Vol. 32, 3(2021), 435-454 
  • “Freedom to agreed-upon religious upbringing of the child on dissolution of a marriage: A critique of Kotze v Kotze”, De Jure Law Journal, Vol. 54, (2021), 533-548 
  • “A Reply to Camilla Pickles’ Pregnancy Law in South Africa: Between Reproductive Autonomy and Foetal Interests”, Potchefstroom Electronic Law Journal (PELJ), Vol. 24, (2021), 1-28. 
  • “Whose Equality? Freedom of Religious Associations and Gaum v Van Rensburg”, Journal of Law and Religion (JLR), Cambridge University Press, Vol. 38, 2(2023), 1-16. 



Area(s) of Interest


Professor Shaun de Freitas specialises in human rights law, with specific focus on the right to freedom of religion as well as the intersection between the law, religion and the State. According to the South African Constitution, everyone has the right to freedom of religion, which more specifically entails the freedom of conscience, religion, thought, belief and opinion. The Constitution also makes provision for the protection of religious communities in South Africa. Consequently, the maintenance and protection of such a right is of fundamental importance. The freedom to believe and the freedom to give expression to such a belief are inextricably connected to the believer’s experiences of self-worth. Unfortunately, this right is substantively violated and threatened across the globe, whether in societies where a religion dominates over other beliefs or in societies where religion mainly enjoys protection in the private sphere. The unfair and unjust limitations directed at the religious interests of individuals and groups of individuals not only violate the basic right of human dignity but also contradict the aspirations reflected in the South African Constitution (and the Constitutions of many other States) and expressed by the Constitutional Court pertaining to the progression of diversity. Against this background, Prof. De Freitas’ current focus is on challenges that have arisen in South Africa, more specifically pertaining to the right of medical practitioners to object conscientiously towards participating in certain medical procedures, the parameters of freedom related to religious associations and the inclusion of religious expression in public schools. These matters are also of relevance to many other parts of the world (including, ironically enough, those democratic societies that are popularly labelled as democratic).

Courses Presented


LHUM 2613 (Human Rights Law) (LL B module)



Community Service

Service Learning


T: +27 51 401 2451
F: + 27 51 401 3043


Equitas Building
UFS Bloemfontein Campus

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