The United Nations charter is for all UN countries to follow, to its best ability.
The United Nations is for the right to change one's religion, without coercion. It applies to both countries who thwart changing religions directly, but also holds governments responsible if it allow private actors to coerce people from changing one's religion.
Coercion is thought of broadly, and goes beyond mere physical force. It seems to me that it would include being called 'mentally diseased' and this is perhaps why the UK has it in their law.
Coercion also includes denying medical treatment. We know that active Jehovah's Witnesses must not willingly accept a blood transfusion becuase he would be ousted and shunned. This is blatently against UN charter. The coercion is the possible death, fear of being DF/DA and shunned that keeps one from taking a blood transfusion. He has to choose between literal death, or a cutting off in this life. Not because of his personal beliefs. But, because of the Watchtower Society sanctions and policies it enforces on members who decide against their viewpoint.
The Brittish need to also look at the UN rules as they must also follow it. This whole issue is an international incident. It goes to Brittain, Brazil, every UN country.
If the WTS is still an NGO as heavily reported, the UN needs to know that this NGO is not in compliance with the UN charter in an area it has responsibility.
A summary of the UN Charter and decisions regarding religious freedom is found here:
Here is some of what I found VERY interesting.
UDHR "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief [...]."
ICCPR Art. 18 (1): "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice [...]."
1981 Declaration of the General Assembly Art. 1 (1): "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have a religion or whatever belief of his choice [...]."
Human Rights Committee general comment 22 Para. 3: "Article 18 does not permit any limitations whatsoever on the freedom of thought and conscience or the freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief of one's choice;".
Para. 5: "The Committee observes that the freedom to 'have or to adopt' a religion or belief necessarily entails the freedom to choose a religion or belief, including the right to replace one's current religion or belief with another or to adopt atheistic views, as well as the right to retain one's religion or belief."
50. This prohibition of limitation is reinforced by paragraph 2 of the same article, which provides that "[n]o one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice." The fact that the prohibition of coercion was made explicit shows that the drafters of the Covenant found the freedom provided by paragraph 1 to be so significant that any form of coercion by the State was impermissible, independently of whether the coercion was physical or in the form of State-sponsored incentives. According to the Human Rights Committee:
"Article 18.2 bars coercion that would impair the right to have or adopt a religion or belief, including the use of threat of physical force or penal sanctions to compel believers or non-believers to adhere to their religious beliefs and congregations, to recant their religion or belief or to convert. Policies or practices having the same intention or effect, such as, for example, those restricting access to education, medical care, employment or the rights guaranteed by article 25 and other provisions of the Covenant, are similarly inconsistent with article 18.2" (general comment No. 22, para. 5).
51. The Special Rapporteur notes that there is a clear prohibition under international human rights law of coercion to change or maintain one's religion. She also draws attention to the fact that the term "coercion" in article 18, paragraph 21, is to be broadly interpreted and includes pressure applied by a State or policies aiming at facilitating religious conversions. In the case Kang v. Republic of Korea, the Human Rights Committee found the "ideology conversion system" as well as the succeeding "oath of law-abiding system" to be in violation of article 18, paragraph 1, of the Covenant. [Views of the Human Rights Committee in Kang v. Republic of Korea, adopted on 15 July 2003 (CCPR/C/78/D/878/1999), para. 7.2: "As to the author's claim that the 'ideology conversion system' violates his rights under articles 18, 19 and 26, the Committee notes the coercive nature of such a system, preserved in this respect in the succeeding 'oath of law-abidance system', which is applied in discriminatory fashion with a view to [altering] the political opinion of an inmate by offering inducements of preferential treatment within prison and improved possibilities of parole. The Committee considers that such a system, which the State party has failed to justify as being necessary for any of the permissible limiting purposes enumerated in articles 18 and 19, restricts freedom of expression and of manifestation of belief on the discriminatory basis of political opinion and thereby violates articles 18, paragraph 1, and 19, paragraph 1, both in conjunction with article 26."]
53. In the cases where non-State actors interfere with the right to "have or adopt a religion or belief of [one's] choice", the requirements of article 18 of the Covenant and other relevant international instruments also entail a positive obligation for the State to protect persons from such interference. The Special Rapporteur wishes to re-iterate in this regard that States must ensure that the persons on their territory and under their jurisdiction, including members of religious minorities, can practise the religion or belief of their choice free of coercion and fear. If non-State actors interfere with this freedom, and especially the freedom to change or to maintain one's religion, the State is obliged to take appropriate measures to investigate, bring the perpetrators to justice and compensate the victims (see also E/CN.4/2005/61, para. 42).