It's pretty wide question, which, for sure, contains innumerable sub-questions.

For example, is it legal for planetary government to enslave distinguishable part of planet's population (not criminals!) and then resell to the world's financial elite with the aim of making better economy using obtained money?

Can it be legal for owner in some planetary jurisdictions to kill privately held slave with no other reason than just because he finds murder joyful?

Etc., etc., etc...

What is the exact situation with slavery in the Imperium of Mankind? Which forms of slavery CAN be legal at least in the some parts of Empire? And are there any forms of slavery which CAN NOT be legal anywhere in the Empire?

So, the status of slavery, very broad question.

Thanks. A lot! And sorry for my English, please.

  • 1
    can you give an concrete example of this slavery you speak of? i havent come across any books showing slavery in the Empire. Dark Eldar use slaves, Orks use slaves but humans dont.
    – Cherubel
    Aug 5, 2016 at 6:02
  • @Cherubel Have you read some of the descriptions of Forge Worlds? Aug 5, 2016 at 11:23
  • 1
    indentured workers are just that, workers that have to pay of their debt. Ok that might be some kind of slavery. Servitors are lobotomised humans, skitarii are humans forecfully made into cyborgs. But it is the 42M. Everything usefull is used and abused or thrown away. the future is GRIM!! Also anything that grows on a Mechanicum world it the SOLE PROPERTY of the Mechanicum! So if they want to kill off an entire population for some experiment of whatever it is their right.
    – Cherubel
    Aug 5, 2016 at 12:16
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    In the lords of mars book series the world the Mechanicus ship is over empties the planets prisons and takes people from the lowest levels of the hives to work on their ships for the expedition
    – Bosc
    Aug 5, 2016 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


Slavery is pretty rampant in 40k, even if it isn't formal ownership of a person. Instead, the Imperium engages in all sorts of acts that allow the state to dictate an individual's life:

  • indentured workers
  • forced conscription and "sacrafice" (ranging from the Imperial Guard all the way to being a victim of the black ships)
  • servitors

Keep in mind that the above are just the most common means of subjugating people in 40k. Planetary cultures and their governors are all over the map in terms of moral norms. A planet within Ultramar is probably held tightly to the rule of law and respects the rights of citizens. However a human world that is outside of mainline Imperial oversight can easily slide into a moral cesspool for decades before the Inquisition learns of it. Such worlds that are isolated enough to quietly slip to Chaos are also likely to experience depraved and barbaric conditions of slavery.

Finally, even thriving Imperial Hive worlds are often just too big to police for slavery. Hive gangers all engage in fairly brutal slave-like treatment of enemies and they're largely ignored by the Adeptus Arbites so long as they stick to the ghettos of the lower hives.


  • Slavery is rampant across the Imperium because it's just too large an empire to comprehensively police every nook and cranny for human trafficking and enslavement.
  • Yup, there are many worlds in the Imperium that are just isolated, decadent or corrupted enough that large scale enslavement for the profit of a small elite is possible.

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