Actor Ashton Kutcher – who co-founded international the anti-human-trafficking organization Thorn – gave senators several ideas Wednesday to end the trade in humans, including adaptable technology and steps to protect vulnerable refugees.
Seeking more funding for his organization at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Kutcher pressed the importance of using good technology to battle technology that facilitates human trafficking.
“Technology can be used to enable slavery, but technology can also be used to disable slavery,” he said.
Several law enforcement agencies have used a beta version of Thorn’s software to prioritize their case loads and cut down investigation time, Kutcher said.
One of the organization’s programs, Spotlight, shortens investigations from three years to three weeks, Kutcher said.
Kutcher also pressed the importance of fostering public and private partnerships, saying many companies “Want to do the right thing” and have already offered not only funds but also pro bono services to combat traffickers who are “Continuously changing their modus operandi.”
Kutcher also recommended addressing the “Pipelines” to trafficking – taking a deeper look at the foster care system, which he said was a “Breeding ground” for abuse, as well as increasing mental health services.
“When people are left out and not supported and not given love they need to grow, it becomes an incubator for trafficking,” Kutcher said, adding that refugees are the most vulnerable to traffickers.
Elisa Massimino, president of Human Rights First, told the committee that the only people who benefit from displacement are malicious traffickers, she said – traffickers are “Drawn like sharks to those in distress.”